‘The cuts just keep coming thick and fast’ - councillors hit out at government cuts but pledge to protect frontline services

The meeting took place at Hartlepool Civic Centre
The meeting took place at Hartlepool Civic Centre

Council bosses have pledged to protect frontline services from £235,000 worth of cuts to the borough’s adult care budget.

Hartlepool Borough Council adult and community services committee are having to make the savings as part of £5.987million in cuts to the authority for 2019/20.

Councillors Mike McLaughlin

Councillors Mike McLaughlin

Adult services bosses said no redundancies will have to be made as part of the £237,500 cuts and a review has identified two areas where savings can be made with ‘minimal or no impact’ for people, saving £97,500.

An estimated £65,000 will be saved through recovery of direct payment contingencies and a further £75,000 will be saved by an inflation freeze for non pay budgets and salary saved from vacant posts.

Councillors were pleased to see frontline services saved but hit out at the continued cuts from government.

Coun Mike McLaughlin said: “We are in precarious economic times. The fact these cuts are not coming from frontline services is vital.”

Councillor Carl Richardson

Councillor Carl Richardson

Coun Sue Little said: “We are lucky enough on this occasion there are no redundancies but are we going to be sat here dealing with this next year if there are more cuts?”

Coun Carl Richardson said: “Next year is going to be even worse and we are not going to be able to do anything about it.

“The long term implications for the people of Hartlepool will be horrendous.”

Coun Lesley Hamilton said: “I’m terrified for the staff and terrified for people in Hartlepool who rely on the facilities especially the aging community. The cuts just keep coming thick and fast.”

Committee chairman, Coun Stephen Thomas, praised the work of staff in the department at a tough time.

He said: “I’m pleased that the hard work put in by officers has got us to a situation where frontline services and jobs are protected.

“However it’s a very, very difficult time we are living through and there is still no significant light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jill Harrison, director of adult & community based services, said she was pleased to announce no redundancies would have to be made as part of the cuts.

In comparison there are 16 potential redundancies as part of the £500k cuts to children’s services.

However she warned any further cuts in future years could lead to a loss to frontline services and staff jobs.

She said: “In terms of staffing it’s important to say that there are no redundancies, which is very positive.

“I think we can do as much as we can to save frontline services but there are only so many things we can look at to achieve savings, any more and we would have to look at staffing as an alternative.

“If there are future savings there will be some very, very difficult decisions.”

A report on the savings will be given to the council finance and policy committee at its meeting next month.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service