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Budget Challenge Met Despite Further Cuts

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Sheffield City Council has warned that Government cuts will continue to hit the city hard, as they look to set this year’s budget.
This is the sixth year in a row that the council has been hit with swingeing cuts from Government, the worst series of cuts this council has seen in its history.
This comes ahead of a budget consultation event tomorrow evening (Thursday January 28) in the Town Hall. Here the council will discuss budget proposals which it plans to take forward next month.

Further cuts announced by the Government last year come on top of the £300m the council has had to save over the last five years, with a further £50m to be found now. This means tough decisions having to be made about what services the council can provide.

This includes the possibility of up to 400 council jobs which may go over the next year and the council tax increasing by 1.99 per cent.

In order to protect essential services and to prevent making deeper cuts elsewhere, it is proposed to increase council tax by 1.99 percent. This equates to 33p a week for most households.

On top of this, the council is expecting to implement the Government’s social care “precept” of two per cent; the new national policy announced in last year’s spending review. But this still falls short of covering the increasing demand for care services next year alone.

However, to protect those who may be hardest hit by this increase the Council Tax Hardship fund will have an extra £200,000 added to it this year to help those who struggle to be able to pay their bills.

Councillor Ben Curran, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources said: “These Government cuts are continuing to hit the city and the days of austerity are far from over for the people of Sheffield, despite Government promises to the contrary.

“Our pledge is still to make sure we protect the most vulnerable in society and we will endeavour to make this happen. That is why the Council Tax Hardship fund is increasing to protect those who need us most.”

“The reality is by the end of 2016/17 we will have had to make £350m of savings from our budget with the predictions of further cuts to still come in future years,” he added.

“We will always balance the books but we cannot do this sadly without changes being felt.”

As part of the savings proposals the council is required to submit an HR1 form to inform the Government of potential redundancies, which this year could be up to 400. As in previous years the council will take steps to minimise redundancies, such as offering Voluntary Severance and Voluntary Early Retirement schemes.

Other specific proposals include:
• Increased partnership working to change how the council funds and supports areas like businesses, sports facilities and museums
• Reducing contract payments
• Continuing to reduce staffing and operating costs
• Working with partners in the NHS to deliver savings through commissioning and contract arrangements
• Continuing to reduce costs by rationalising council office accommodation
• Moving more work online where possible
The proposals will be looked at in more depth at Thursday night’s event. Everyone is free to attend this public meeting, which runs in the Town Hall reception rooms from 6pm until 8pm. Council leader Julie Dore, Coun Curran and Chief Executive John Mothersole and other cabinet members will be at the event to take questions from members of the public. To book a place call 0114 273 5417 or email PPCBusinessSupport@sheffield.gov.uk.
The next stage of the budget setting process will be to put the proposed 2015/16 budget before Cabinet in February, before a final version is agreed at Full Council in March.

ENDS

For more information please contact Emma Hollingworth, Communications, on 0114 205 3546 or 07710 737905. Email emma.hollingworth@sheffield.gov.uk

For out of hours media enquiries please ring 07711 153995.