‘Difficult’ cuts could hit vulnerable

‘DIFFICULT’ cuts being proposed by North Somerset Council could hit the most vulnerable people in the district.

The council’s leader Nigel Ashton has said both the council and communities must now take responsibility to see the region through cuts that will reduce authority spending to �2 of every �3 spent last year.

Some of the areas earmarked for cuts as part of the drive to achieve savings of �47.3million are the authority’s services for children and young people, and adult social services.

Councillor Ashton said: We will not be able to maintain all services at their current levels but we will strive to minimise the adverse impact on our areas and communities.

“None of us were elected, or employed, to make such cuts in council services. Unfortunately, largely as a result of the actions of others, we are where we are.”

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But responding to the proposals, which are currently out for consultation, Unison’s North Somerset spokesman Helen Thornton said: “The residents of North Somerset should be very worried by proposals put forward by the council which will see massive cuts to services to the elderly, people with disabilities, children and young people.”

* The department dealing with the region’s most vulnerable adults could be hit with �14million of cuts in the next four years, with cllr Ashton saying services will be operated ‘very differently’ in the future.

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In the authority’s mid-term draft financial plan, an outline document currently out for

With �1,317,000 already saved, �1.2million could be taken from care home provision, �1million from care for the elderly and disabled and �1million from care for people with learning difficulties, while �4million could be shaved off from care home placement savings.

Other proposals include more co-operation with privately-run care homes and the NHS, reducing long-term care home provision and a variety of changes to the running of the department.

Ms Thornton said: “If anyone thinks that it is possible to cut such large amounts of money without it impacting on services then they are not living in the real world.

“The welfare state which was created to provide support and protection to our most vulnerable citizens and look after every one of us from cradle to grave will have been dismantled by 2015, if not sooner.”

* Children’s centres across the district could be turned over to charitable or community organisations in the future as part of an overhaul of the integrated service branch of the children and young person’s services directorate.

The department is consulting on a report which suggests �13.7million could be saved from its budget over the next four years as part of plans which could see a widespread overhaul of many services.

The 199 jobs across integrated services would be reduced to 133, with staff such as family support workers, education welfare officers and youth support workers having to re-apply for their jobs.

Some of those job losses would be offset by voluntary redundancies and reduction of posts to part-time roles.

Although none of the 14 children’s centres across the district would be closed if the council approves the recommendations, the report does call for a review of whether they should be run by the authority in future.

It suggests they may be more efficiently run through a social enterprise or voluntary bodies such as Barnado’s or Action for Children.

Among the other changes proposed is the setting up of community family teams who would work from ‘hubs’ such as the Nailsea Youth House or Portishead’s St Barnabas alongside volunteers, schools and the police to offer services to children and families.

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