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Troubled county sets out cuts

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Troubled Surrey CC is set to impose a 2.99% council tax increase and make cuts to social care, children’s centres and bus passenger concessions.

The council is due next week to approve a budget passed by its cabinet with a total council tax funding requirement of £731.5m, a 2.99% increase for next year over 2018-19.

Surrey’s Band D rate would be £1,453.50, against £1,411.29 this year, including an unchanged adult social care precept of £102.39.

A resilience report last year by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy concluded that Surrey “will not have sufficient reserves to meet its expected budget gap in 2019-20” without changes to its approach”.

The budget report from leader Tim Oliver (Con) said: “Through the programme of change we are undertaking, Surrey County Council will drive out inefficiencies and reduce costs, minimising the use of reserves this financial year and is anticipating not needing to rely on reserves at all for 2019-20.”

In a report last week to a scrutiny committee the proposed budget for 2019-20 for the health, wellbeing and adult social care department was shown as needing £21.2m of savings on a total of £365m.

‘Transformational savings’ would focus on more people with a learning disability living independently and renegotiating the cost of their supported living and residential care.

A further series of cuts across various departments will see the number of children’s centres fall from 58 to 21 “located in areas where children are most likely to experience poor outcomes”.

Concessionary bus travel for disabled people will be withdrawn on weekdays between 11pm and 9.30am, which the council said would affect only 2% of journeys.

Surrey’s previous leader David Hodge (Con) stood down in November as the county faced a funding gap of £36m in 2018-19 rising to £86m by the end of 2019-20.


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