Capped councils in dilemmas over cuts

Herefordshire Council fears that older people’s services may need
to be cut if it is forced by the government to slash its overall
budget by £250,000, while Torbay Council in Devon has refused
to rule out cuts in social services to meet its enforced
£600,000 saving.

However, Nottingham, and Telford and Wrekin Councils, the two other
councils with social services responsibilities that last week had
their council tax rises capped, believe front-line care services
will not be affected.

Olwyn Barnett, executive member for social services and housing at
Herefordshire, said the social services department was already
under pressure to meet demands to reduce delayed discharges and
provide domiciliary care to the most frail people.

“We have a high percentage of older people in the population and
would have experienced difficulties without capping. So if social
services lose money, it will have an impact,” she added.

All four local authorities have 21 days to decide whether to
appeal. If they fail to overturn the ruling, they will need to
rebill council tax payers, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Telford and Wrekin has been told it has over-budgeted by
£32,000, meaning each council tax payer will be entitled to a
64p rebate on their bills. However, it has estimated that it will
cost it six times that – £200,000 – to reissue bills.

Nottingham over-budgeted by £180,000, but the cost of
reissuing bills is twice the amount it will give back to taxpayers.

Four fire authorities, three police authorities and two councils
without social services responsibilities were also targeted by
local government minister Nick Raynsford for setting their council
tax too high.

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