‘Catastrophe’ predicted for Hartlepool as ‘abhorrent’ funding cuts bite deep

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Council chiefs have warned more cuts to services and job losses could end in ‘catastrophe’.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Adult Services Department is set to be hit with even more cost-cutting measures - described as “abhorrent” by one councillor - as it looks to save £945,000 in the next three years.

Coun Stephen Thomas

Coun Stephen Thomas

However, the department fears cuts could go much deeper as it also needs to manage ongoing financial pressures placed on the services it provides which could be increased due to the pressures being placed on the NHS. It is estimated the combination of savings required to manage cuts, and savings required to manage financial pressures equates to £3,010,000 over the next three years.

As a result, the department is reviewing all its services including pay budgets, preventative services and housing related support while work is also being undertaken to identify those who could share support or to live more independently if different service models are commissioned.

To date, savings within adult services has already hit £5,764.000.

Six jobs had been set to go, however, that has now reduced to four positions set to be axed as part of the review.

Chairman of the Adult Services Committee, Coun Steve Thomas is now calling on the Government to put a halt to the cuts in a bid to avoid the “catastrophe” in the pipeline.

He said: “This is certainly the most distressing meeting I have ever had as chair of this commitee. We are in a situation where we are facing year on year cuts which is leading to an unsatisfactory and damaging reduction in our workforce and we are now facing difficult decisions on how we support some of the town’s most vulnerable people in the future.

“We have already engineered £5m worth of cuts. We also know there is a shortfall nationally in social care funding. We need to tell this government to start making changes to avoid a catastrophe that is in the pipeline.”

A report delivered to the adult services committee said reducing budgets year on year could not be achieved “without an impact on front-line services and on people who use adult services.”

It went on to say current levels of service and performance could also not be sustained.

The report was accepted however Coun Thomas added he wanted all concerns and expressions put forward by members noted.