Opposition parties have united to condemn cuts to essential Children's services as the Conservatives vote to slash £5.2m from social care and education.
Cornwall Council’s Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee were meant to be meeting today (Wednesday) to scrutinise next year’s budget, but opposition members complained that a lack of detail made it impossible to do this. “There was so little detail, I managed to fit it all into a single Tweet!” said Cllr Colin Martin, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group. “I am appalled that Councillors were asked to approve millions of pounds of cuts without being told of the potential consequences. Just weeks after news that failings of Social Care in Bradford and Solihull lead to the deaths of two vulnerable children, it seems incredible that the Council could propose cutting funding for this service without even telling Councillors how many Social Worker and family support posts were being “deleted”.”
Opposition Councillors united to call for the Conservatives (who took control of the Council last May) to think again and find extra resources for the budget to avoid the need for £5.2 million of cuts.
Mebyon Kernow Councillor Mike Bunney called for the budget to be amended and cabinet to reconsider an uplift in funding for children's and families services. He said “We were concerned that more investment was needed to guarantee core services for the children and families of Cornwall".
Independent Councillor Mike Thomas said “The Independent group does not support any cut to Children and Family Services and urges the Cabinet, in setting the whole budget, to set aside sufficient reserves to cover any additional unplanned demand that may occur”.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Pat Rogerson said “I voted for an uplift in funding to Children's Services. All the evidence is showing that the need for help for vulnerable children is growing and not diminishing.”
Labour Councillor Kate Ewert (who seconded Cllr Bunney's amendment) said “It was incredibly disappointing that party allegiances were put before uplifting funding to some of our most vulnerable children and families in Cornwall”
But despite this united opposition to the cuts, all of the Conservative members of the committee voted not just to accept them, but to “recommend” them to the cabinet.
The Conservative Cabinet will meet to finalise their proposed cuts on February 9th and the Full Council will have the final decision on February 22nd.