On Monday 15th January, B&NES councillors unanimously voted to recommend that proposed council budget cuts to children and adult services provided by the not-for-profit sector are delayed until the consequences are better understood.

The Children, Adults, Health and Wellbeing Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, whose Vice-Chair is Labour’s Liz Hardman (Paulton), heard concerns from DHI, Julian House and 3SG. They are all key ‘service providers’ of community services in Bath and North East Somerset, and are facing non-specific budget cuts of £802,000.

After the Panel heard from Cabinet members that they did not yet have details of the cuts to share, the Panel unanimously agreed a motion that stated, “Our recommendation would be that in as far as possible these cuts are delayed until the consequences of those cuts are better understood.”

Panel Vice-Chair, Labour’s Liz Hardman said after the meeting, “For the Council to propose £802,000 cuts without telling the providers which services these might be is beyond irresponsible. Cutting funds to these voluntary groups is a short-term fix, which will cost us all so much more in the long-term.”

Labour’s Opposition Leader Robin Moss (Westfield) added, “Most B&NES residents know how important voluntary groups like DHI, Julian House, 3SG and Age UK are to local lives. They provide a huge number of services to the Council, preventing great personal and social harm, in housing, rehabilitation, social care, youth support and many other areas. They keep our society well; they pick people up, and they stop them falling further.”

Labour agrees that local government is in crisis and savings are necessary. Health and social care have been neglected by the government for over a decade. But as Labour stressed throughout the Panel meeting, this is yet another Liberal Democrat budget consultation that doesn’t have enough detail in it for anyone to scrutinise constructively.

Labour councillors in B&NES are currently scrutinising the Liberal Democrat administration’s draft Budget proposals, and developing alternative approaches. The Budget consultation opened on 15th December and closed on 15th January. The Cabinet discusses the Budget on 8th February, ahead of the vote at Full Council by all councillors on 20th February.

In an open letter to B&NES Council, Chief Executives of local, Bath & North East Somerset-based, 3rd Sector organisations call for reconsideration of budget cuts to not-for-profit organisations. You can read the letter below: