The Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council, Keith Glazier, appears to have written to Prime Minister David Cameron to “express [the council’s] significant concerns about the Local Government Funding Settlement, how it has been handled, and its impact on the residents of East Sussex”.
Glazier explains to Cameron that the cuts the Council is consulting on for 2016/17 to 2018/19 “will significantly reduce the quality of life for many people in East Sussex. Our proposed cuts have to include preventative services which, while offering a short term saving, will cost the taxpayer more in the medium term.”
A draft of the letter, which is dated 14 January 2016, is published on the East Sussex County Council website in the minutes of a Cabinet meeting of 26 January 2016, where it was resolved that the council would endorse the letter.
Putting it bluntly, the Council leader tells Cameron that “some of the initiatives that the Government seems to be [sic] believe that councils like East Sussex can rely on to make our budgets sustainable are not realistic. There appears to be misunderstanding in relation to the nature of council reserves, the ability to make significant further efficiencies, the likely returns from further sharing of services and the ability to raise income.” He goes on to complain that there was no consultation with councils on the planned changes in their grant.
The Conservative Council says, “we call on the Government to recognise that the current, and planned, approach to funding local government does not reflect the varying needs of places. A model, which takes into consideration the needs and ability of local communities to fund services locally is required.” Significantly, taking up a socialist demand of a ‘needs based economy’, they also call on the Government to “Revisit the grant distribution for future years on the basis of needs so it more fairly recognises the real pressure on social care authorities.”
A draft of the letter forms part of the recommendations in a Council report in response to consultations on proposed council cuts. Signed by the leader of the Council, Keith Glazier, and on behalf of the East Sussex County Council leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Labour Party, Independent Democrats, Independent Group and UKIP. The letter is cc’d to George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
A recent consultation by East Sussex County Council’s plan to cut £40,000,000 from Adult Social Care services resulted in public uproar, with 32,000 people signing my Care2 petition against the cuts, and an additional 14,000 people signing a Care2 petition specifically against cuts to mental health support service, Recovery Partners.