Devon County Council announce cuts of �54 million

Councillors at Devon County Council agree cuts of �54 million and freeze council tax for 2011/12.

CHILDREN and young people’s services are one of the areas to be hit after cuts of �54 million were announced by Devon County Council.

Councillors approved a revenue budget of �519 million with cuts of �54 million in areas including children and young people’s services and bus services during a meeting yesterday.

The budget for Children and Young people’s services will be cut by over �14 million from �109.4 million this year to �95.1 million in 2011/12.

This will mean early years services will be reduced by nearly �3 million and opening hours at children’s centres may be cut.

The council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for finance, John Clatworthy, said: “The Government is tackling the unprecedented national deficit they inherited and Devon County Council’s financial support has been reduced by 28 per cent over four years.

“We were left with no choice but to reduce the services that we are able to provide for the people of Devon.”

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School transport, youth work, information, advice and guidance services and the Learning and Development Partnership were also the target of cuts.

Environment and economy will be reduced by 11 per cent and the highways service budget will be cut by �8 million.

However, an extra �2.5 million will be made available to repair potholes and safety defects on the highways network.

Support for bus services is also being reduced by �1.3 million from �7.7 million, which will involve cuts to subsidies for less well used leisure services and buses operating to schools, primarily for pupils who are not entitled to free school transport.

The frequency of rural services may also be affected.

Waste disposal is being cut by �2.1 million, which will mean the introduction of new charges at recycling centres and the end of the rural skip service.

Devon’s adult and community services’ budget will face cuts of 4.75 per cent from �215.7 million to �205.4 million.

However, there will be small cash increases in social care budgets to maintain frontline services.

Councillors also agreed to freeze council tax for 2011/12.

Mr Clatworthy added: “However, to put up council tax at the same time as we were reducing services would have been completely wrong.

“I and my colleagues believe that is the best way forward. We did not feel that we could ask the hard-pressed working families, pensioners and householders of Devon to pay any more council tax in this time of austerity.”

Despite the spending cuts no libraries or children’s centres will be closed and the direct grant to schools will increase.

In addition to this social care for the elderly and those with disabilities, children in care and children with special needs will see a cash increase.

Proposed cuts to Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and other voluntary organisations were halved and the council will continue to invest in domestic violence services.