Communities across the county are being warned of difficult choices as the Council tries to make the savings while simultaneously meeting increased pressures on services.
The Council's Service Committees meet in November to look at proposals to meet the major financial challenge of Â£41 million savings this year and more than Â£100 million over the next five years. This follows savings of Â£218 million since 2009.
In Children, Families and Adults, this means:
- Considerable reductions to services for children, families and adults in Cambridgeshire will be necessary over the next five years
- Across the county, a smaller proportion of vulnerable people will have the cost of their care met by the Council and overall we will reduce the amount we spend on those in receipt of services
- We will ask communities and families to do more to support vulnerable people in Cambridgeshire
- We will increase the focus on improving long term planning for those in receipt of high cost care to maximise their independence and support from their families and/or communities, and to minimise the need for formal support provision over their lifetime. We will also reduce the cost of the specialist support people receive
- This will involve very difficult decisions in terms of where budget reductions will fall. Some people who currently receive our support will not continue to do so. In some cases, we will reduce support for people who use our services regardless of whether or not they can achieve greater independence.
- At the same time, we will strengthen the impact of the preventative work we do with people, working with them to prevent need and to prevent an escalation of need for our high cost services. We will use our remaining and reducing resources differently and our preventative activity will have a very different focus to now.
- We recognise that problems cannot always be solved quickly and some people will require ongoing support over the course of their lifetime. Where people need our most specialist and intensive services, we will support them. We will strive to make sure that the support provided improves both the quality of their life and is cost effective.
Children, Families and Adults need to make savings of Â£26.5m next year. Their proposals include:
- Reducing care support for vulnerable adults and older people (including those with mental health needs) "“ Â£9.3m
- Removing subsidies for educational transport for over-16s and other proposals - Â£770,000
- Removing the Council's funding for speech and language therapy for young children - Â£120,000
- Further reducing funding for Children's Centres over the next two years with a Â£250,000 reduction next year.
- Reducing the total of children and young people becoming "˜looked after' and the cost of their care - Â£1.43m
- Increase the income from older people's contributions to their care budgets - Â£500,000
- Re-tendering the housing support services for older people in extra care accommodation - Â£457,000
- Reduce services provided by the Council for adults with learning disabilities, and potentially use independent sector provision instead - Â£500,000
- Reduce advice and support that is available to early years settings and schools to statutory minimum - Â£500,000
- Absorb staff pay increases and increases in pension payments (incurred as a result of national policy changes) within individual service budgets - Â£2.9m
- Reduce spend on agency social work staff - Â£502,000
- Reduce staffing in informatics, strategy development and project management support, practice development and innovation - Â£546,000
- Reductions in early help services for children and young people as previously agreed - Â£1.02m
The Adults Committee meets on November 3 and the Children and Young People's Committee meets on November 10. These committees will comment on the proposals, which will then be discussed by the General Purposes Committee on November 24 and by Committees again in December. The final budget will be set by the full Council in February 2016.
This means that during this time there could be changes and some proposals may not go forward.
Executive Director for Children, Families and Adults Adrian Loades said: "The combination of reduced Government funding and increased demand on our services mean we have had to make some extremely difficult and unpalatable decisions, recognising that they will have a direct impact on vulnerable people, families and communities. The sheer scale of the savings required quite simply means that we will not be able to provide services to the level we have been able to in the past.
"However, our foremost priority has always been to protect the most vulnerable in society and we will continue to do that to the best of our ability. Officers and members will be working hard within the coming weeks and months to look further at these proposals and ensure that the necessary savings are achieved with the minimum impact on services, but unfortunately, some will inevitably be reduced or discontinued."