£100m more cuts - and Sheffield council tax may rise

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Sheffield Council is to be hit by more than £100 million of further cuts over the next five years – and a rise in council tax cannot be ruled out.

The Government has now confirmed the reductions in its grant to councils - and Sheffield’s will total £108.8m.

Town Hall cuts protest . Protesters outside of the Sheffield Town hall  before the full council meeting to discuss cuts too services

Town Hall cuts protest . Protesters outside of the Sheffield Town hall before the full council meeting to discuss cuts too services

There will be cuts of £35.8m in 2014/15, £44.5m in 2015/16, £10.5m in 2016/17, £9.5m in 2017/18 and £8.5m in 2018/19.

Cuts have already been made for four years up to 2013/14.

The news puts hundreds more jobs at risk - and the council said it will have to ‘reshape’ services such as culture and leisure to ensure they survive.

Council leader Julie Dore called the cuts ‘unfair’ - and said she could not guarantee council tax will not go up.

Services such as child protection and social care, are protected by law.

Coun Dore said: “When they came to power the Government initially announced four years of cuts, and we have had to make quite deep savings.

“Now we have been told the unfair cuts will continue.

“Although local government spends only seven per cent of public money, we have taken 22 per cent of the cuts across the public sector.

“It’s unfair that local government should bear the brunt.”

Coun Dore said she hoped more services could be taken over by third parties.

Already, schools have taken over nurseries, a community group is running Stocksbridge Leisure Centre, and Sheffield Hallam University has struck a deal to manage Woodbourn Road athletics stadium.

Coun Dore added: “Another example will be libraries – we are due to announce next week which third parties may run some of the branches.”

Meanwhile, a one per cent cap on pay rises for staff will continue for at least the next two years.

Sheffield Council said the continued cuts to the council’s main Government grant meant the sum it received has dropped by almost half from £190m to £109m by 2015.

Coun Dore said the council’s funding calculations for the next few years include the Government paying an additional grant rising by one per cent of costs in return for a freeze in council tax.

“But if that does not continue to be offered, we could not rule out a council tax rise,” she said.

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for finance, said: “We have made a lot of savings already and looked beyond services, at areas such as the major sports facilities debt which has been restructured to save £7m in repayments.

“But we need to look at how we deliver services to make further savings.”

John Mothersole, Sheffield Council chief executive, added: “As well as cuts to the Government grant, we have £16m to £20m of extra financial pressures each year.

“We’ve never had such a challenging financial environment.”

Opposition Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed claimed the council could protect more frontline services by eradicating ‘waste’.

“It’s a shame that, despite the financial challenges facing the council, Labour bosses continue to waste taxpayers’ money - nearly £5m a year on high-paid consultants, over £5m this year on council office makeovers, and more than £2.8m on Park Hill,” he said.

“The council needs to attract jobs and investment to the city to build a stronger local economy.”