Powys County Council’s budget discussions failed to reach a conclusion yesterday with Liberal Democrat Councillors successfully protecting funding for children with additional learning needs (ALN) and preventing an increase in the charge for Day Centre Users.
After pressure from the Welsh Liberal Democrats, service users and staff, the Independent Council Cabinet agreed to defer the decision on funding for additional learning needs for another year and not to increase Day Centre Charges.
Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr John Morris (Lib Dem, Crickhowell) said:
“The Independent Cabinet’s initial proposals would have led to the closure of our vital Citizen’s Advice Bureaus (CAB) the ALN’s and increased costs for Day Centre Users.
“The Conservative proposals did nothing to address some of the serious threats to local services. However, while there were parts of the proposal we could have agreed on, such as the ALN and CAB elements, it lacked detail in other areas which is why we had no choice but to vote against it. That said we are committed to maintaining support for the ALN’s in the future and to fighting for the CAB and the survival of Day Centres in the budget negotiations over the next few days.
“The package we have always supported, and will continue to support, included not only a commitment to protect funding for children in our schools who have additional learning needs, but also protection for CAB and Day Centre funding.”
Roger Williams MP for Brecon and Radnorshire commented:
“It is clear that savings have to be made but this should not be to the detriment of front line services such as the CAB, Day Centres and Additional Learning Needs. It is vitally important that these provisions are secured and I think that the support that has been shown by employees and service users proves how important these are. Cabinet Members will be meeting with Group Leaders to discuss the way forward and we will continue to press for these important services to be ring fenced.
“The Council must look at making savings in a strategic and coherent way; working hard to find innovative ways to manage the necessary cuts by looking at alternative approaches, rather than just blankly getting rid of services in an arbitrary manner. We must preserve and maintain many services by delivering them technically differently, not cutting them. Once services are lost it will be very hard, if not impossibly expensive, to reinstate them.”
Kirsty Williams AM for Brecon & Radnorshire said:
“I am pleased that the Powys Cabinet has buckled under the pressure of the residents’ of Powys and the Welsh Lib Dem’s campaign to reverse the threat to ALN units and Day Centres. We must however remain vigilant that the proposals have currently only been delayed until next year. Additionally we must continue to press for the decision to cut 50% of the CAB budget to be overturned and for the continuing operation of our Day Centres.
“I have huge concerns about the Cabinet’s handling of this budget; they have sought to rush through these ill-planned proposals without adequate consultation with the public, service users, service providers and communities. The poor communication with stakeholders about proposed cuts is unacceptable, unprofessional and needlessly damaging and I hope that they will learn from this mistake and have detailed and inclusive discussions with stakeholders over any future proposals to ensure that we do not see a repeat of this shambolic budget next year.
“Under the Cabinet’s proposals it was the most vulnerable in our communities who were disproportionately affected. It is vital that full impact assessments are made on the loss of the services and their service users and that those affected are properly involved in and consulted with throughout the decision making processes. Our communities must not pay the price for recent Council turmoil.”