£20 million cut back to services in North Yorkshire
8:15am 19th November 2010
(Updated 10:47am 23rd November 2010)
A series of proposals for saving more than £20 million from the budgets of services such as adult social care and libraries has been drawn up by North Yorkshire County Council in the face of major cuts in funding from central Government.
But the council is pledging that the most vulnerable people in North Yorkshire will continue to receive the first-class care and support to which they are accustomed and entitled .
The suggested savings have been outlined in a report to the Care and Independence Overview and Scrutiny Committee, for its meeting on November 25. They follow last month's Comprehensive Spending Review, in which the Government confirmed that local authorities will have to cut millions of pounds from their budgets over the next four years - around half of it within the next 16 months.
The Adult and Community Services directorate (ACS) has to find savings of £20.5 million out of its budget between now and March 2015. Almost half of the savings have to be achieved before the end of March 2012.
"Drastic action is required to address the national deficit, and North Yorkshire County Council is determined to play its part," said County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for ACS.
"But we are equally determined to do all we can to protect those members of society who are most vulnerable ."
The county council is still consulting the public and partner organisations on precise details of where savings will have to be made. Among the proposals which will be outlined to the Scrutiny Committee next week are a reshaping of the library service, the possible closure of some elderly persons homes with the aspiration to link any closures to the development of extra care schemes, and new ways of providing care.
Internal changes proposed to the management and staffing of the directorate itself will save at least £1m and lead to the disappearance of up to 130 posts.
"When it comes to adult social care, the first priority has to be the protection of the most vulnerable," said Derek Law, Corporate Director of ACS.
"Is it possible to protect the same number of vulnerable adults and children in North Yorkshire communities for less money? The honest answer is probably not, but we can minimise the damaging impact if we think and behave differently.
"We must enable local communities to value the vulnerable people in their midst. We need to develop communities where more people support each other, look out for each other and care for each other. While there are extraordinarily good examples of individual volunteers giving their time and energy to support other people, we now need to find ways of tapping into the energy of communities to enable them to do the same. To do this, we may need to offer incentives for good work, good volunteering and good neighbours."
He added: "The County Council has traditionally always done things for people. We now need to fundamentally change the way we work with them, both at an individual and a community level. Rather than doing things for people, the County Council is transforming the way it works.
"We are now offering a range of preventative services delivered largely by the voluntary sector as well as telecare (the use of technology) and START (short-term reablement team) for people seeking adult social care."
The County Council is moving away from providing residential care services and is exploring how it can work with agencies so they can develop new extra care facilities, allowing elderly people to live more independently while still receiving the professional support they need.
In other innovative developments, some organisations have set up social enterprises allowing people with a range of disabilities to run services that would traditionally have been run by the council or contracted agencies. Catering facilities in the new extra care facilities in Tadcaster and Richmond will be run by social enterprises.
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