Spending Review: Cornwall Council mulls care freeze

Cornwall Council report Decisions on the proposed cuts in the report will be made next month

Cornwall Council could freeze its adult social care spending and close libraries as it tries to save money.

Evening and Sunday buses could be cut as the Conservative-Independent-run council attempts to save £110m over the next four years.

The possible cuts, to be discussed by the council's cabinet on 27 October, have been revealed in a leaked report.

They had been prompted by a predicted 30% grant cut from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

'Cut waste' demand

Chancellor George Osborne has announced council budgets are to be cut by 7.1% a year over the next four years.

He said ring-fencing of local authority grants was to end from April 2011, except for simplified schools grants and a public health grant.

He also announced an expected loss of 490,000 public sector jobs nationwide over the four years.

The leaked report to the council's cabinet said the number of libraries could be reduced from about 40 to 14.

Adult social care could be affected by providing less help to people in their homes.

Budehaven and Camelford leisure centres were earmarked as being in line for cuts.

Analysis

The cutback announcements have left this region with a significant struggle to face up to pressing problems such as our uniquely unaffordable housing and reduced bus and rail subsidies will effectively tax rural and peripheral areas.

Cutting the public sector is a necessity, but in counties like Cornwall and Devon many of the public sector jobs that go will have been amongst the better paid locally.

The most obvious glint of hope for this region's economy is the talk of new investment for green technologies. If ever there was a time to grasp that opportunity, it's now.

Subsidies for buses would be cut in the Truro park-and-ride scheme and the Corlink dial-a-ride service in north Cornwall.

Waste recycling banks could also be removed to save £168,000 while £100,000 could be cut from road safety education.

Children's Connexions, which offers information and advice for 13 to 19-year-olds, faces a £400,000 cut.

Launceston Liberal Democrat councillor Alex Folkes said: "We haven't heard that all the waste and bureaucracy has been cut.

"Until we hear that all the waste has been cut, cuts in front-line services are not justified."

'No jobs elsewhere'

The council has already announced about 2,000 jobs will go as a result of spending cuts.

Stuart Roden from public sector union Unison said Cornwall would take its "fair share" of public sector cuts, but public sector workers would find it difficult to find new jobs in the county or in neighbouring Devon.

Spending review branding

A special BBC News season examining the approaching cuts to public sector spending

He said: "The jobs simply are not there at the moment, and I think people aren't going to be able to get jobs elsewhere.

"If you live in Birmingham or London, there's another local authority next door. You can maybe get on a bus and go up the road and find yourself another job. You just can't do that in Cornwall."

Cornwall Council, which is controlled by a Conservative-Independent coalition, said no decisions would be made on the recommendations on 27 October.

A final decision was to be made in November, it said.

It added that it would be studying the Comprehensive Spending Review in detail in the meantime to analyse how it would affect both the local authority and other public sector services.

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