THE most vulnerable people in society could lose out as a result of Cambridgeshire County Council having to find savings of £18 million next year, according to opposition councillors. The council was due to agree to the 2007/08 budget as The Hunts Post w
THE most vulnerable people in society could lose out as a result of Cambridgeshire County Council having to find savings of £18 million next year, according to opposition councillors.
The council was due to agree to the 2007/08 budget as The Hunts Post went to press yesterday.
While the authority has £15 million more than last year's budget, cuts were expected, with services for more vulnerable people suffering the most.
The cuts will allow the county council to increase Council Tax by five per cent, or 85p a week, for a Band D property.
Cuts will include the closure of an in-house respite centre, saving £300,000, and the abolition of the X5 bus service from Papworth to Cambridge, saving £50,000.
Fresh meals on wheels will be replaced with frozen meals, saving £750,000, and two mobile libraries will be scrapped, saving £85,000.
Spending on teaching assistants and support for children with sensory impairment will be slashed by £200,000, and £852,000 will be saved by not paying for unused care beds. Foster children will no longer be placed outside the county or with agencies, saving £700,000.
The Conservative-run council said demand for services had increased costs and forced them to examine how the £292 non-education million budget, which starts in April, is spent.
Council leader Keith Walters said: "Our growing population, increased demand for social care and the need to provide increasingly complex care packages is hitting us hard. We will continue to lobby Government for adequate funding to ensure our services can be maintained in future years."
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Julian Huppert, said balancing the budget was a hard task, but added: "We must safeguard services to the most vulnerable, those who may not have anywhere else to turn." Labour leader on the county council, Cllr Martin Ballard, agreed, saying the Tories had cut services for the vulnerable on a "disproportionate scale".
Other cuts include a reduction in spending on archaeological conservation, and the closure in 2008 of the Buckden household waste recycling centre. More than £800,000 will be cut from road and footpath maintenance and a saving of £2.3million will be achieved by cutting senior management posts and restructuring.
Cllr Walters added: "We have worked extremely hard to increase efficiency to ensure cash is directed to front line services. Our Council Tax increase is higher than I would have liked but it is the absolute minimum to protect services."
INFORMATION: Visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk