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Sheffield council to cut 200 jobs and raise council tax

Sheffield City Council is set to cut 200 jobs and raise council tax by 1.99% as part of an effort to make savings of £63m.

Since 2010 the council says it has seen its funding from government cut by 50% and has had to make cuts of £240m. A rising population as well as increased demand in need for school places and social care is placing additional pressures on the authority as they now need to find a further £63m of savings.

The plans were unveiled at a public consultation at Sheffield Town Hall. If approved the council tax rise of 1.99% will be the first in four years for the authority, and is the maximum the council can increase it without seeking the public’s permission via a referendum.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles last year made several attempts to lower threshold from 2%, first to 1.5% and then in December to 1% - however both times his move was blocked by the Lib Dems and home secretary Theresa May.

While raising council tax, the council will also invest £100,000 in its council tax hardship fund, to protect the poorest households which cannot afford to pay.

Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for Finance and Resources, Cllr Ben Curran, said: “In order to meet these massive reductions in our funding, we have already had to make some difficult decisions, and as the government’s cuts get deeper the decisions become harder every year.

“We have frozen council tax for the past few years, but we have now come to a point where the cuts we are facing are hitting the council so deep that we can no longer afford to do this.

“In order to protect essential services and in order to prevent making deeper cuts elsewhere, this is a necessary and difficult decision that we have had to make.”

The authority also anticipates that it will make up to 200 redundancies in the 2015-16 financial year, compared to 600 in the past two years.

As part of its £50m in budget savings for the year 2013-14 the council demolished the Don Valley athletics stadium, cut funding to arts centres and handed some of its libraries over to be run by volunteer groups.

Other money-saving proposals include negotiating savings on current contracts with companies such as Capita, Veolia and Amey as well as re-tendering some services to providers who may be more cost-efficient.

The council will also look at reorganising the way it delivers customer services, moving away from telephone to doing more online.

(Image souce: Chris Downer)

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