The region’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) meeting on Thursday was asked to approve a £8.8 million in savings to address an estimated £15.4 million budget gap for the coming year.
A range of cuts were proposed, including saving a saving of £250,000 by limiting care packages for individuals with complex needs with additional savings from reducing day care provision
The plan will also be put in place to try to claw back more than £1 million in GP prescribing costs.
The proposals were considered by members of the Integrated Joint Board on Thursday (28th) afternoon, when a report by Jen McPhail, chief finance officer, confirmed that legacy costs – overspends and savings unachieved in prior years – currently total £15.3 million and continue to have a lasting impact.
“This is a critical issue for the future,” she notes in her report. It is paramount transformational cost savings options and plans to ensure financial balance are delivered in the 2019-22 Strategic Plan.”
However, opposition leader Fife Conservative councillor Dave Dempsey described the proposals tabled as a “car crash budget” which reflects “desperate underfunding” by the Scottish Government.
“Fife Integrated Joint Board has been structurally underfunded by £11m since the start and yet again it is trying to plaster over cracks which are only getting deeper,” he said. “The cuts proposed will undoubtedly damage the quality of care Fifers receive. All this still leaves the IJB £6.5 million in the red”.
“It’s an impossible ask and Fife residents shouldn’t be faced with cuts to the most vulnerable when council taxes are rising. The Integrated Joint Board should refuse to set a budget and appeal directly to Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman for a sensible level of funding.” This latter suggestion was dismissed as “ludicrous” by Fife Council’s co-leader David Alexander (SNP), who branded it a stunt.
In the event, the IJB agreed a budget which will lead to £8.4 million in savings but rejected plans to close two council run care homes. However, two day care centres will close in north east Fife – the Leng in Newport and St David’s in St Andrews, which are underused and in need of extensive repairs.
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