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Council ready to invest, but cuts on way

PUBLISHED: 09:42 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 08:54 01 August 2010

AN extra £13.8m is to be pumped into council services in Suffolk next year - but the county council has warned that future budgets are likely to be placed under severe pressure because of government spending cuts.

AN extra £13.8m is to be pumped into council services in Suffolk next year - but the county council has warned that future budgets are likely to be placed under severe pressure because of government spending cuts.

The 2010-11 budget has been protected by ministers because it completes the three-year cycle of income guaranteed to local authorities by Whitehall.

It means that in the run-up to the general election, there will be no savage cuts in county council services. However, the council warns that it only delays the “extremely tough decisions” which will have to be taken for most of the rest of the decade.

Suffolk intends to put an extra £9.8m into services to protect vulnerable people including £3.4m into creating extra care packages for the county's increasing elderly population, £1.6m on improving services for looked after children, £1.7m will be invested in front line social work staff and youth workers, and £1.3m to boost adult services.

The balance of the £13.8m will go to meeting the council's landfill tax liability of £1.6m, £3m will take care of inflation on existing contracts, £300,000 to subsidise passenger transport, and £1.6m for extra borrowing to fund the capital programme.

Resources portfolio holder Jane Storey said: “We know that whichever political party forms the next government, harsh spending cuts are on the way.

“Even though the budget settlement to councils for the 2010/11 budget is likely to escape relatively unscathed because the government has promised to honour its commitment to funding, we know it is only delaying the inevitable.

“Our budget planning for the 2011-12 financial year will be made on a worst case scenario, hoping against hope that we will be able to protect services.

“Since 2005, the council has been extremely efficient through some difficult times which means we are now still in a position to help the people who need us most.”

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