£50m more Sheffield Council cuts

Sheffield Town hall
Sheffield Town hall
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HUNDREDS of jobs will be axed and almost all services are at risk after Sheffield Council revealed it will make £50 million extra cuts next year.

Every household in the city has already suffered from Government cuts equal to £280 each so far, the council’s Labour leadership says.

And it claims the poorest people in Sheffield are already suffering ‘disproportionately’ because they depend more heavily on council services.

Today council leader Coun Julie Dore warned of more misery to come.

“The impact of these savage and unfair cuts means there will be major changes,” she warned.

Cuts of £6m were made in 2010 soon after the coalition Government came to power, followed by £84m in 2011/12, and £55m in the current 2012/13 budget.

Smaller savings were expected in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

But the lack of economic growth now means harsher-than-expected cuts to the direct grant paid by the Government to councils - and further cuts in the following two years to 2017.

Only statutory provision for areas including child protection and help for vulnerable adults will be spared.

Coun Dore said: “During the current year we have had to bring in alternate week recycling and rubbish collections, cuts to green waste collections and recycling centre hours, closure of bowling greens, and more parking charges.

“We were expecting to make £40m of cuts next year, but now find ourselves with an extra £10m of cuts on top.

“Meanwhile additional promised Government funding, such as the pupil premium to help poorer youngsters, is being taken from other budgets.”

She added: “We aim to protect and support communities and will carry out statutory duties such as protecting children from harm. We will also keep our apprenticeship scheme.

“With other services, we aim to be innovative about how they are run - but the impact means there will be major changes.”

Around £1m of the savings will come from reductions in council management posts.

But Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for finance, warned of the impact on other jobs - with 40 per cent of the council’s current £465m budget spent on the salaries of 7,000 staff, not including teachers.

He said: “One million pounds in savings is equivalent to 30 jobs. We are looking at the high hundreds in terms of job losses, although we do not yet have a specific figure.”

This financial year 590 jobs were axed, after 873 in 2011/12.

Coun Lodge said £1m of savings will come from cuts to senior management - and he added £6m of savings have been achieved through ‘efficiencies’ in IT work carried out by contractor Capita.

Contractors were last week criticised by trade union bosses for making £9m a year profit on the eight largest Sheffield Council contracts - a margin of seven per cent.

Coun Lodge said: “This shows outsourcing can provide extra savings - although in return there is a profit made on such contracts.”

Sheffield Council has not revealed whether it plans to contract out further services, or to what extent voluntary groups could be used to help cover services.

The council leadership is also worried its finances could be further hit by changes to business rates.

Deputy PM Nick Clegg had announced councils would be able to keep 100 per cent of rates from the Spring, but councils will now be able to retain only 50 per cent. The rest will be handed to the Government and ‘redistributed’.

Council chief executive John Mothersole said he had received no assurance about whether a previous promise would be kept to ensure the council does not suffer a cut in business rate income - another major source of the council’s funding along with council tax.

The council has also not received details of a Government grant which is set to offset inflationary pressure and subsidise a freeze in council tax.