THURROCK’S top councillor for Public Health is calling on her colleagues across the country to see if legal action can be taken to counter in-year funding cuts by the government.
Cllr Barbara Rice, deputy leader of Thurrock Council and portfolio holder for adult social care and health, said on Monday (10 August): “The more I think about and look at these proposals, the angrier I become.
“Telling councils they will receive X amount of money to use from April and then waiting until July to say they’re getting less causes all sorts of problems, not just for councils but the people we serve too.”
She explained: “At the end of 2014 we in Thurrock were told our Public Health allocation was Â£10Â½ million, not enough and not as much as last year, but a figure to work with, so officers started negotiating with suppliers, arranging new contracts and more importantly signing those contracts to start on 1 April.
“If we now have to break those contracts because the government now says our allocation is Â£9.9 million we will incur charges from our contractors, maybe even face legal action.
“This is simply wrong and every single council with Public Health responsibilities is having to deal with it. We should get together and look at the legalities of the government’s action which is putting us all in an intolerable position.
“We either have to break our current contracts, or we have to make the cut in contracts that are not signed yet, putting an unfair burden on a comparatively small number of services.”
Cllr Rice added: “The Department of Health has also issued what it calls ‘a consultation’ on the ‘in-year savings’ which basically asks councils to choose which of an unappetising list of options we prefer – it’s like offering a condemned man his choice of execution!
“We will, of course, be responding to the consultation, but I will be urging my colleagues in other councils – irrespective of political party and through the Local Government Association – to see what action we can take to turn this around.”