Latest Public Sector News

08.02.18

Sheffield publishes proposals to meet £44m funding gap

Sheffield City Council has published its budget proposals, which it claims will meet the challenge of a £44m funding gap next year.

In order to meet the funding gap, which it says is due to further austerity cuts and rising demand for essential council services, the council proposes to save £3m through renegotiations on its Veolia waste contract.

In addition, following the government’s decision to lift the cap on council tax increases from 1.99%, it proposes to increase council tax by 2.99%, with a further increase to the social care precept.

The council says that residents will see an average increase to their council tax bill of £1.10 a week from April 2018.

An additional £15m will be invested into services to provide care for adults and children next year, due to the high increase in demand for these services which the council says it has seen.

However, this increase in demand means that services must still make significant savings.

Cllr Olivia Blake, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance, explained: “We are seeing, across the country, the impact that continued austerity and increased cuts are having on council services.”

She continued: “Last week this reached a tipping point for one council which had to stop all spending because they have fallen over the cliff edge.

“In Sheffield, we have had to bridge another £44 million gap this year in addition to the £390 million over the previous seven years.”

Blake said that Sheffield has “robust plans” to address these issues, but warned that the national position is “quite frankly unsustainable into the longer term.”

Alongside “repeated cuts,” services are under “unprecedented cost pressures” due to the national social care crisis, she continued.

“We are being forced to pick up the human cost that austerity is having on our city through increased poverty, and the impacts for children in care.”

She added that the council will always prioritise services for those greatest in need, but stressed that it also has a responsibility to maintain core services.

“From our budget consultation we know that this is what people want to see and we have also been able to invest in infrastructure through our capital programme in flood defences, building new homes and transforming the city centre through the retail quarter.”

The draft budget will be discussed in a cabinet meeting on 14 February 2018, with the final budget being approved at the council’s full meeting on 7 March.

Top image: SAKhanPhotography

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