Savage cuts for Doncaster council

Ros Jones.  Picture: Andrew Roe
Ros Jones. Picture: Andrew Roe
0
Have your say

Council tax is set to rise and more than 1,200 jobs are at risk as Doncaster Council faces a £109 million wave of cuts, it was revealed today.

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones also warned of closures to old people’s homes and children’s centres as the council comes to terms with the latest cuts to its funding from the Government.

At least 1,200 jobs are at risk, all of the town’s council-run care homes are set to close and council tax will increase by two per cent per year for three years as the latest budget reductions bite.

Three or more of the town’s day centres will close, 70 per cent of council buildings will be disposed of and bus routes will lose their subsidies if current proposals are accepted. A number of children’s centres could also go.

A consultation on how the £109m should be found begins today and residents, community groups, volunteers and businesses are all encouraged to come forward with suggestions as to how services can be provided differently and more economically in future.

Mrs Jones said: “These are draconian cuts that are coming here to Doncaster. We have got to balance the budget and we are not shying away from the responsibility we have got. These have been forced upon us.

“We are being open and honest with the people and making sure they’re fully aware of what is in front of us.

“We aren’t going to do salami slicing like we have in the past. This is going to effect all our people and all our residents. How we deliver now will not be the way we deliver by 2017.”

The council has proposed to bridge £57m of the £109m budget gap with 14 major projects focussed on buildings, services, income and value for money. A further set of more minor projects could save £12m, and the remaining £40m will be found through cuts to other services - meaning absolutely nothing is safe.

Doncaster Council’s Chief Executive Jo Miller said: “We know this news of more council cuts is not what our residents want to hear but we need to be clear about the challenges we are facing.

“Inevitably, some services will be reduced or stopped, many will be done differently and some will be delivered by others where they are better placed to do so. The shape of local government has to change otherwise we are in danger of collapse under the financial strain.”

Some £38m needs to be found in the next financial year. The council has only £6m in the bank in non-ringfenced reserves - enough to keep things running for just seven days.

Economic growth, keeping children safe and education and training are among the top priorities Mayor Jones is eager to protect and develop in the budget. Some £500,000 has been put aside for attracting new businesses to town - potentially generating £1.5m per year in business rates.

“Now is the time for us and our partners and with the help of our communities to think outside the box and be innovative and enterprising in not only how we close down this budget gap but how we can reshape our services,” Mayor Jones said.

“What is clear is that is it unlikely that any council service can stay the same - things have to change.”

Visit www.doncaster.gov.uk/budget to view the full budget proposal and leave your comments. They can also be seen online from libraries, one-stop shops and the civic building in Waterdale.

Comments are welcomed until November 15 and a full budget will be set in February next year.

Bridging the budget gap: Ten main points

• Cuts of £109m over the next three years

• At least 1,200 jobs at risk, shrinking the council to about 4,000 employees by 2017

• Council tax increase of two per cent every year for three years

• Closing all eight council-run care homes

• Closing children’s centres

• Closing leisure centres

• Closing at least three day centre for adults and ceasing subsidies for transport to and from all centres

• Reducing the number of council buildings by about 70 per cent, slashing the £14m running cost

• Reducing subsidies to certain bus routes

• Council aims to ‘go digital’ by April 2016