ADULT and children's services and the environment are the main losers in this year's proposed budget as councillors struggle to keep council tax at current levels and cope with rising costs.

In a conservative pre-election budget, there are a few signs of the Future Shape changes to come if the current administration remain in power with councillors mainly concerned with cutting £15 million from the budget.

There are also few giveaways with cabinet members choosing to spend taxpayers' money on keeping council tax at the current levels and unavoidable costs.

Taxpayers must pay an extra £1.87 million to pay for Freedom Passes for the elderly, a £1.4 million levy to the North London Waste Authority, £2 million to pay for changes to the capital budget and £1.3m for other increases such as higher energy bills.

The cabinet also wants to spend £3.5m to introduce Future Shape, although it expects to claw £3m of that back in savings.

To pay for all of this without raising council tax councillors propose to shave money from a variety of budgets.

A total of £3.1m is to go from the Adult Social Services budget if the plans are approved.

Moving adults under the council's care from residential care homes to supported living accommodation will save £250,000 this year and £250,000 in 2011/12.

While councillors plan to save a further quarter of a million pounds by reassessing people's needs, thus driving down cost.

The cabinet expects to save £884,000 this year, £400,000 next year and £200,000 in 2013/14 by “enabling” people to move from long term dependency by providing “short term high intensity support instead, something which was a key thrust of Future Shape.

While elderly people will and other people needing care will see the cost of that care rise by two per cent.

A futher £165,000 will be saved by renegotiating building contracts; another £165,000 by moving to a target culture for charities and not for profit care providers and a further £297,000 of savings have come from billing people better for their care.

Elsewhere clamping down on sickness and agency staff and should save £130,000 and jobs are to go across the council including £425,000 worth of salaries in the housing department alone.

Those working in Children's Services will see a shake up if this budget is approved.

The intervention and prevention services, Connexions Service, support functions, schools and learning and the educational psychology teams will all be restructured at a total saving of £910,000.

A total of £249,000 is also due to be cut from the early intervention and prevention service The council is paying £250,000 for the Building Schools for the Future programme and pumping in £233,000 for a new team of social workers to address the increased volume of referrals, assessment and child protection plans which have come in the wake of the death of Baby Peter in Haringey.

Councillors want to spend an extra £434,000 to keep and retain staff.

An increase in the number of children in care is costing an extra £460,000.

Libraries will also be hit, with £106,000 saved by reorganising librarians and cutting the opening hours of the Local Studies & Archives Service and Church Farm Museum.

A review of spending on books, including replacing some with online materials should save £40,000 this year, and £10,000 over the next two years.

But an extra £135,000 is being spent in the Burnt Oak Centre because it has proved so popular with residents.

Street sweepers, gardeners and bin collectors will also be affected, with £1 million is to be saved by cutting back on overtime.

Jobs will be cut in the trade waste section at a saving of £124,000 while £100,000 is being cut to the winter budget.

Barnet Council's cabinet approved its draft budget last night at its meeting in Hendon Town Hall in The Burroughs.

New council leader Cllr Lynne Hillan said: “We had to makes substantial savings across the service in order for us to present a balanced budget.”

But said she thought it was important the council take into account the situation residents find themselves in during the recession.

She said an increasing number of elderly people, people with complex needs and vulnerable children had driven up costs.

And she praised officers for their help with the “relentless drive for efficiency” across the council.

But leader of the Labour group, Cllr Alison Moore, said: “Cllr Hillan blames factors outside her control but what she fails to acknowledge is that over recent years Barnet’s Tory-run council has lost millions of pounds on badly managed building projects, failed court cases and disastrous Icelandic Bank deposits.

“In the end it’s our residents who suffer from the Tories' mismanagement of council finances.”