By Paul Geater
Local government writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
SUFFOLK County Council’s budget for the next year is set to be agreed by the authority’s cabinet next week – despite lingering concerns from opposition parties.
The county’s element of council tax bills is set to be frozen when the budget is set by the full council next month, but first the budget has to be approved by the cabinet at Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday.
The county is looking to cut its budget by £24.9million in the financial year 2013/14 – but the Conservative administration says frontline services will be protected.
However opposition councillors say the cuts are too deep at a time when the council is seeing its reserves increasing substantially.
Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour believe more should be spent on children’s services, rather than saving money for a “rainy day”.
Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “The savings that are being proposed are significant and will require continued firm management in 2013/14 and future years.
“Last year we made a commitment to focus savings on the back office to protect, as far as possible, the front line. This budget delivers on that commitment.”
LibDem budget spokesman Andrew Cann said: “I cannot understand why the county council feels it necessary to keep increasing reserves which are now £160million when they say they have not got enough money to invest in schools and learning.”
Labour leader Sandy Martin said: “The county council says it is saving for the future, but this is typically cautious behaviour from a Tory authority.
“One of the reasons it gives for building up reserves is the need to pay for redundancies, but it is making a lot of redundancies and still managing to increase its reserves – that money should be spent on increasing opportunities for young people.”