Council will dip into reserves to minimise cuts to frontline services

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool council’s biggest department is set to dip into its reserves to help make £2.6m of savings.

The authority’s Child and Adult Services Department aims to make £2.684m of savings for 2016-17 to protect front-line services.

It plans to use £934,000 of departmental reserves to help meet the target to give it more time to find future budget reductions.

Each council department has been considering where to make savings ahead of setting next year’s budget.

The council says it expects to make £14m of savings over the next three years despite its government funding being reduced by about 40% over the last five years.

The Adult Services Department, which supports people to live independently, in particular older people and those with disabilities, hopes to save money by reducing demand for its services.

It aims to do that by focusing more on early intervention and make £500,000 of savings by integrating intervention services across social care, education and public health.

The department also intends to reduce unit costs and generate more income.

But a report to the Adult Services Committee warned: “Given the increasing demographic pressures from an ageing population and increasing numbers of adults with complex physical or learning disabilities there is a significant risk that demand will not reduce and may in fact increase.”

Contracts will also be reviewed for services the council commissions other organisations to provide.

They include support to people with sensory loss, dementia and day services for older people.

The authority aims to reduce their £3.3m budget by £150,000.

Sally Robinson, the council’s Director of Child and Adult Services, said: “Wherever possible we have tried to identify savings that have the least impact on frontline services for people.”

The committee reluctantly agreed the savings proposals and accepted that there were no alternatives but asked for regular updates.