Guest column: Government cuts continuing to bite hard

Coun Alan Rhodes, Nottinghamshire County Council leader
Coun Alan Rhodes, Nottinghamshire County Council leader
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We start the process of setting our budgets for the forthcoming financial year this week, with the shadow of Government cuts still looming.

Having to deal with cuts of £212 million for local services since 2010 has been tough, especially at a time when demand for social care services is increasing.

The Government will cut funding by a further 10.6 per cent next year.

To cope with spiralling demand we’re proposing to pump an extra £14.8 million into social care services in 2017-18.

Sadly, we know that the extra investment is only enough for services to stand still.

And with no meaningful extra Government funding, local taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill through an increase in council tax.

It’s abundantly clear that a properly funded, long-term national strategy for social care is desperately needed.

In the last few months this has been increasingly recognised by everyone, it seems, except the Government itself.

Any measures to protect services are welcome, but placing the financial burden on local taxpayers for a national problem is unfair.

And it’s not just social care that Government cuts are impacting.

The Department of Health is reducing the money it provides for public health services, which means £2 million less for services to children and new mums over the next three years.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will do everything possible to reduce the impact.

But, just like the cuts to social care, this looks like another short-sighted decision which will ultimately pile more pressure on our NHS.

Not only are social care and public health cuts negatively impacting NHS services for everyone, they make no economic sense because they take away vital intervention work, leading to a deterioration in people’s health and forcing them to access acute services, which are more expensive.

The impact of social care cuts on the NHS is already being felt here in Nottinghamshire.

Beds are at a premium, A&E services are struggling to cope with demand and cutbacks have included the hugely unpopular decision to close the Bassetlaw Hospital children’s ward to admissions after 8pm.

All the indications point to more tough times ahead for all public services but we’ve proven that we can innovate, work smarter and in tandem with other public services to minimise the impact.

We’ll continue to do everything we can to protect these services and demand a fairer deal from the Government.