The looming reality of further budget cuts to Wrexham’s services was emphasised by councillors yesterday.
At yesterday’s Executive Board meeting it was revealed that Wrexham Council were looking to make around £8.2 million worth of savings for 2015/16.
Speaking yesterday, Lead Member for Policy, Finance Performance and Governance, Councillor Malcolm King said: “We are looking for savings of £8.2 million, however I think we may have to find more than that.
“We have carried on the difficult process of making more savings with a further £1.2 million recommended. The majority relate to adult and social care.
“The deeper we go the more painful it gets, neither of the proposals going forward today are done with great happiness.”
Last week we reported that proposals to cut over one million pounds from adult and social care were being considered as part of the ongoing reductions. This includes £444,000 worth of cuts in short term break facilities and a £250,000 review in community living services.
However concerns were raised that cuts to respite care could have a severe impact on families.
Councillor Arfon Jones said: “£440,000 cuts for respite care, is that a false economy? If we cut too much, we may end up being responsible looking after these people 24/7.”
Similar concerns were echoed by Councillor Joan Lowe, who added: “I have grave concerns of the reviewing of short term break facilities. The Welsh Government have pushed carers rights and without recognising what carers do.
“We all know about the increase in dementia, those short term breaks are an absolute lifeline.”
Cllr King told the Board: “There is a real danger, if there aren’t enough respite facilities, then families will find it harder to look after family members.
“All of us would share your concern that it doesn’t push families to the point where they can’t cope any more. We rely hugely on the reliability and dedication and without that we couldn’t supply the public services to make up for that.
“There is still a substantial budget yet for respite services and I hope when you hear the details you feel more reassured.”
Also on the agenda, although not the main topic of conversation, was the Mayoral budget – with councillors voting in favour of proposals to reduce the budget by £26,000.
Comments were also raised about the ‘piecemeal’ way in which proposals were being put before councillors.
Councillor David A. Bithell said: “I understand it is difficult process, but it is difficult for members who are not lead members and backbenchers to understand the level of detail on cuts. I couldn’t support this report today as not enough detail.
“These cuts are getting deeper and deeper, people need to be sure what they’re voting on.”
Cllr King told the Board that the Council are ‘trying to be open with the public as the reports are in part one’ rather than part two; which would exclude the press and public from attending any meetings.
The proposed recommendations were passed by the Board, with seven councillors voting in favour of the proposals.
A full copy (and table!) of the Revenue Budget report can be found on the Council’s website here.