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Cuts will hit young and old - Labour; BUDGET: Ruling Tories say services need not be harmed.

Byline: Les Reid

NEXT year's pounds 10 million Coventry council cuts plan will hit everything from schools to care for the elderly, say opposition councillors. But Tory council leaders say savings can be achieved by more efficient working in and outside the council, without harming services to people.

They have pledged an extra pounds 1 million a year to pay for more qualified social workers tackling child abuse, amid national concern since the death of Baby Peter in Haringey, London.

And they say council bosses will not be exempt from job cuts. Ten senior management posts will go, as well as one among the top ten executive earners on six-figure salaries.

More details have emerged since the Telegraph exclusively revealed the Budget plans on Saturday.

Measures to balance the books include: n Asking schools to pay for salary increases from any Single Status awards promoting equal pay mainly for women.

n Cuts in grants to some children's centres and community centres.

n Savings from social care for elderly and disabled adults.

n A review of street cleaning and grounds maintenance.

n Freezing budgets across council departments, with no increase for inflation.

n A further three per cent cut in council grants to all voluntary organisations and charities. n Cutting the budget of city centre management company CV One by up to ten per cent.

n Further cuts in the council's budget for Performing Arts in schools. n A review of library budgets and management.

n Increasing charges for city council services again above inflation by three per cent, possibly including car parking charges. Labour group leader Coun John Mutton said: "This Budget has serious implications for elderly people, children and the many hard working small charities who are carrying out excellent work for vulnerable people, which would otherwise have to be picked up by the council."

But council leaders say at least half the savings had already been identi-fied through efficiency savings, and better ways of working with partner organisations.

Tory council deputy leader Kevin Foster gave examples of bureaucratic savings in adult social care resulting from giving disabled more people independent control over their grants, and better working with independent organisations. He said savings in council grants to community and children's centres, and arts services in schools, could be achieved where those services were now being delivered by other grants and organisations.

And financial waste could be cut out with better working between the council and CV One without affecting work to attract businesses and keeping city centre streets clean.

Council bosses say fi-nancial pressures have included a fall in income from the property market downturn and less Council Tax being collected due to the recession.

They also want to restrict Council Tax rises to 2.5 per cent, below this year's 3.8 per cent. But it is still above the current inflation measure used by the council of 2 per cent.

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CUTS... schools and care for the elderly will be hit and (below) John Mutton and Kevin Fostere
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Words:503
Previous Article:HUNDREDS OF CITY COUNCIL JOBS AT RISK; EXCLUSIVE: Bosses planning cuts of pounds 70m: Massive pounds 70m cuts planned.
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