WE face a massive problem providing the crucial services the public needs because money is running out fast.
That’s the stark warning from a senior member of Portsmouth City Council as the authority faces the daunting task of slashing millions of pounds from its budget again due to ongoing cuts in government funding.
We as carers have been told the council intends to privatise services for handicapped and vulnerable people across the city, and close their facilities down. It’s absolutely atrocious.Anonymous carer
The Tory administration says it will need to save at least another £11m in 2016/2017 after already having to claw back £13.1m last year.
And deputy council leader, Cllr Luke Stubbs, warns social services will likely be severely hit as the cost of looking after the most vulnerable spirals.
It comes after The News revealed more than 100 council jobs will be cut to help balance the books.
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Cllr Stubbs, also in charge of planning and adult social care, told The News: ‘We have a massive problem, we really have.
‘The budget was reduced by £3.8m in adult social care last year and it’s still not staying within budget.
‘We have got a serious problem delivering social services.
‘No-one knows the details of the decisions we will take, because I don’t know the details yet.’
It comes after the council launched a consultation into how it should spend its cash in future.
Residents are being asked questions on a range of issues including the future of libraries, community centres, money for bus services and theatres, school crossing patrols and providing a heating allowance to those with poor health.
Critics fear it’s an indication of what will be cut.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘If the council is considering taking away subsidies for people who are elderly to keep warm, then they will end up being taken into hospital.
‘Some of the things in the consultation are extremely worrying.
‘We’ve managed to not close any libraries in the city so far and, in a city where we have a low level of literacy and children not reading, shutting libraries would be very bad.’
A carer for an adult with learning disabilities, who did not wish to be named, fears the council will privatise the rest of the social care it currently provides.
He said: ‘The council is refusing to tell people what is going on.
‘We as carers have been told the council intends to privatise services for handicapped and vulnerable people across the city, and close their facilities down. It’s absolutely atrocious.’
Tory council leader Donna Jones said: ‘We’re facing a huge challenge with this budget but we want to tackle it with everyone’s input.
‘Last year, almost 2,500 residents and council staff took part in the budget consultation, and important decisions were made as a result.
‘By listening to what people have to say we’re confident we can draw up a budget which reflects the city’s priorities.’