Bradford

Calderdale council consultation: charge more for services

Care worker and elderly man
Image caption Most council tax payers said spending on services for vulnerable people should be protected

Taxpayers have told Calderdale council it should consider charging more for some frontline services to protect them from spending cuts.

More than 3,000 people responded to a consultation exercise to help the council decide its spending priorities.

Publishing the results on Monday, the local authority said: "There is support for increasing charges if it minimises service reductions."

Most people said spending should be focused on services for the vulnerable.

More than 80% of respondents wanted spending levels to be maintained on services for children with special needs and home care services.

In contrast, more than 60% felt that spending on substance misuse services, tourism, public halls and business development should either be cut or stopped altogether.

The council, where the Conservatives have a majority but no overall controll, estimates it will have to make £98m of savings as grant funding falls between 2011 and 2015.

The budget consultation document said people believed not all services had to be provided by the council, which should promote personal responsibility rather than reliance on public provision.

Council leader Janet Battye said: "Many councils are consulting local people, to help inform budget decisions.

"We believe the strength of our process has been in the direct contact we have had with hundreds of local people, our staff and our partners.

"Everyone is going to be making budget decisions which affect lives - talking to people face to face has been crucial."

Deputy leader Tim Swift said: "The consultation has shown that local people value the services the council provides.

"Some of those services are particularly important and every effort should be made to maintain them, but they can and should be delivered more efficiently.

"It is clear that residents want to see the greatest protection given to the services that support the most vulnerable people in our society."

Members will use the results of the consultation, along with financial and other information, to put together draft proposals for the council's budgets and services over the coming years.

Detailed proposals will be published in January for comment, with final decisions being made at a budget meeting on 28 February.

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