National and Devolved Politics

07.02.19

‘We are on our knees’: Rotherham Council reveals £30m budget cuts with 175 jobs set to go

Around 175 jobs are to be cut at Rotherham Council as it tries to plug a £30m funding deficit over the next two years in its latest budget proposals.

The authority has revealed cuts to the town’s Healthwatch, a 2.99% tax hike, and the closure of the its Bailey House and Rawmarsh depot, bringing Rotherham’s total budget savings up to £200m with more than 1,800 jobs lost from the council since 2010.

Rotherham Met Borough Council has said that the cuts are necessary to protect its children’s services, and has proposed committing an additional £17m for the borough’s most vulnerable children and families to cope with increasing demand.

Council leader Chris Read said these are “deeply challenging times” and stressed that reductions to government funding “have hit communities like ours so hard.”

The budget announcement comes a day after the town’s MP Sarah Champion revealed that the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham had placed “unprecedented and unbudgeted pressure” on the council.

Champion warned that it was struggling to meet the financial implications of a dramatic increase in demand for children’s services and she “begged” the government to provide extra children’s services funding as “we are on our knees in Rotherham.”

Rotherham said 175 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the budget proposals, but the council said it had reduced some cuts to services following public consultations.

It is also proposing free weekend parking at Wellgate multi-story and Drummond Street, and said that renegotiating the lease of its Riverside House headquarters would also save it £500,000.

Read commented: “Building on the huge improvements in our Children’s Social Care over the last few years, our proposals will ensure that we meet our commitments to our most vulnerable children. We are doing all that we can to put both Adult and Children’s Social Care on a sustainable financial footing.”

He added: “Of course, where we do have the ability to continue to make investments then we do so. But the fundamental financial pressures faced by all councils continue. No one should be in any doubt that austerity is not over yet.”

Cabinet members will meet on 18 February to confirm the proposals ahead of a budget setting meeting on 27 February.

Image credit -  Lynne Cameron/PA Archive/PA Images

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