Big Sheffield Council budget debate tonight as £51m cuts loom

Sheffield Town Hall, Sheffield city centre
Sheffield Town Hall, Sheffield city centre
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Millions of pounds of budget cuts facing Sheffield Council will be discussed at a meeting tonight.

Chiefs are expecting to have a funding gap of around £51 million for 2016-17 - although the true figure will not become clear until after Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement next week.

The authority has already saved £300m since 2010, which has led to job losses, controversial cuts to bin collections, libraries and winter gritting, and last year it was behind an unpopular rise in council tax for households.

Council leader Julie Dore said that last year’s budget had been ‘more or less a two-year budget’ based on estimated cuts to come.

But she added: “However if the statement then asks for further cuts, it is at that point even more extremely difficult decisions will have to be made.

“It is increasingly difficult to balance these savings.”

The council says that safeguarding vulnerable people, the future employment of young people and protecting the least well off are the priorities chiefs will aim to protect.

Child safeguarding, adult care, council house building and a commitment to the living wage are also on the lis of priorities.

Coun Dore said the council would be looking at partnerships where services could be delivered together more ‘effectively.’

It is likely that jobs will be affected as a result of savings that have to be made, althought the numbers are not yet clear.

Coun Dore added: “Of course we always like to try and protect jobs as much as possible.”

On a potential council tax rise, chiefs say consultation will be taken into account and it is important to get the ‘balance’ between helping to keep the cost of living down for residents, and having money to deliver services.

That aspect of the budget will also be on the agenda at the meeting tonight in Sheffield Town Hall, from 6pm to 7.30pm.

The event will trigger an ongoing public consultation on the budget.

To attend call 0114 2735417 or email PPCBusinessSupport@sheffield.gov.uk.

Meanwhile, members of Sheffield People’s Assembly will protest after the autumn statement is delivered by Mr Osborne on Wednesday November 25.

It will be outside the town hall at 5pm as part of protests around the country calling for an alternative to austerity.

For more details of how to get involved with the council’s budget consultation visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/budget.