Cuts hit poor’

LIKELY cuts to Cambridgeshire County Council spending next year will discriminate against the most vulnerable people in society, Labour councillors say. And the Liberal Democrats say a management restructuring designed to save cash is actually costing an

LIKELY cuts to Cambridgeshire County Council spending next year will discriminate against the most vulnerable people in society, Labour councillors say.

And the Liberal Democrats say a management restructuring designed to save cash is actually costing an extra £400,000 a year.

Labour councillors accuse the controlling Conservative group of failing to attract sufficient Government cash under a new social needs funding formula.

"This is now a key source of funding to all local authorities," said Labour leader, Councillor Martin Ballard. "Yet I was at a recent public meeting when council leader, Councillor Keith Walters, openly admitted that he hadn't been quick enough. The Conservative response has been too little, too late."


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Encouraging benefit take-up not only took needy people out of poverty, but increased recorded deprivation, which in turn increased the cash available to county and district councils and to primary care trusts, he said.

"According to Government figures, Cambridgeshire is - after Surrey - the richest county in England. This does not match the facts as seen from ground level. We have serious levels of deprivation in rural areas, as well as in parts of Cambridge and Huntingdon."

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Labour believes services for children and older and disabled people are likely to fall under the spending axe.

The Lib Dems say the Tories claimed management restructuring - called "re-shaping for excellence" and introduced in April 2005 - would save £107,000 last year alone. Instead, it was costing more than £400,000 extra.

Lib Dem leader Councillor Julian Huppert said: "The council continues to blame the Government for poor service performance, for dropping to a one-star social services rating and for being stripped of 'excellent' status. Instead, the evidence of their own mismanagement is mounting.

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