Protests are planned throughout Lancashire as Lancashire County Council faces a vote on plans to cut £179.1m from its budget over the next three years.
According to their budget proposals, which you can view on the LCC website here (PDF download) the brunt of the pain is to be born by the Social Services. Care Services to elderly and disabled people are already feeling the impact, as 'moderate' care needs, cleaning, cooking and shopping, are no longer part of the LCC assessment, leaving only personal, physical care and frozen dinners.
Care agencies are reeling from the loss of clients, as many frail, elderly people can simply not afford paid help out of shrinking pensions.
Virtual-Lancaster has been informed that disabled people with medical conditions may find their care needs reclassified as ‘health care needs’ and some are having services withdrawn and being referred over to the NHS for assessment with a view to negotiating a new NHS package of care. It’s a way of moving the strain onto the NHS budget.
Children & Young People’s Services are being cut back, and subsidised bus routes dropped. Both central and local government funding for voluntary agencies and charities is affected with the Citizens Advice Bureau facing a potential loss of 45% of its funding – a disaster for an organisation which is already overstretched as demand grows for its services to people in financial crisis. One Voice has lost its disabled hub premises at Cornerstones off Dalton Square and is now resettling into St Leonard’s House.
On Thursday 17 February the full Lancashire County Council meets at 1.00pm in Preston to decide whether to approve the cuts as laid out in the plans, for a £71.7m saving in 2011-12, followed by a further £50m in 2012-13 and another £57.4m in 2013-14 - a total of £179.1m over the next three years. Protesters will rally at County Hall at noon.
An all-Lancashire protest against these proposals is to take place in Preston Flag Market at noon on Saturday 12 February. Lancashire is one of the counties hardest hit by the coalition government cuts in funding to Local Authorities. Critics claim that the Conservative majority on the County Council are too accepting of the Conservative-led government’s distaste for channelling public money towards people outside their millionaires' circle of overpaid tax-dodgers.
• Visit the Lancaster & Morecambe Against the Cuts facebook group.
This article is a balancing article to News International.