THE ability of Ceredigion County Council to make savings that are “draining the life blood” out of the adult care budget have been called into question.

Concerns were raised at scrutiny committee on Wednesday (January 30) that the £1.5million still to be found within the department’s budget would not be met

The draft budget proposals for 2019-20 state that adult services has a cuts target of more than £2million, with a quarter of that identified, and also includes more than half a million carried over from last year.

Cllr Paul Hinge said: “The £1.57million you have got to try to find is a huge ask. There’s a lot in the report that’s going to be difficult to achieve.”

He referred to the £39million of cuts made in recent years and said it had impacted services.

“We have to do this but we shouldn’t have to do this because we are asking them to do things that’s going to cause problems.

“You can cut and cut and at the end of the day there’s nothing left and it’ll only take one major thing to go wrong and our heads are on the chopping block,” said Cllr Hinge.

Council chairman Cllr Hag Harries added that he struggled to see it as a “credible” budget, asking how confident officers were that the savings could be found.

“I don’t want to vote against the budget but this is not a credible budget in terms of adult services,” he added.

Head of finance Stephen Johnson said that the report was “open and honest” and he accepted there were risks to meeting the proposed savings but “if you don’t start a plan you won’t achieve any savings.”

Cuts included in the report to scrutiny include £15,000 savings on homelessness-leased accommodation, increased charges for community-based services from £80 to £100 as well as other proposed fees and charges increases generating £52,000.

The service also has a further £1.57million to be found “from service reviews either underway or planned.”

Cuts of £138,000 to the children’s service £6.7million budget were also agreed by the committee, who were told they would not be “detrimental” to delivery.

Cost pressures include pay awards, direct payments hourly rate increase and increase staffing at the Mid and West Wales Adoption Service.

A reduction in the number of Looked After Children (LAC) in transition will save £57,000, reduced transport costs with the increased use of volunteer drivers and a review of long-term vacant posts will help meet the target.

The lifelong learning and culture service faces savings of £282,000 while £44,000 has to be found in the policy and performance department areas.

Fees and charges will likely see inflation price rises ranging from two to six per cent, with Meals at Home prices increasing from £7 to £7.20.

Any final decisions, including the setting of a council tax increase of five to seven per cent, will be taken at full council next month.

The budget was “difficult, if not impossible. I feel for the department, in the 28 years I’ve been here this is getting more and more difficult,” said Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones.