Coping with demand for adult social care services while dealing with austerity measures is a tough challenge for councils across the country.
Sheffield is not alone in asking residents to pay a higher rate of tax to help support vulnerable people.
The council says it is not dealing with the reduction in 2017/18 funding with ‘straight cuts’, but rather by redesigning services to focus on early intervention and partnership working.
This will help save £9.9 million from the communities budget.
The authority thinks it can save £614,000, for example, by helping people earlier so they need less long-term care and support. Up to £57,000 could be saved by reducing the number of people living in care homes through better home support, according to this year’s budget.
The council, working with Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group and other partners, aims to reduce the £3.7m ‘over-commitment’ on mental health by £2.5m – although the overall support budget will go up by £1.2m.
Allowing adults with learning disabilities to live in less restrictive and institutional settings will save £1.4m, the council says.
But some services will suffer. The number of residential rehabilitation places for people with drug and alcohol addictions will be cut to save £50,000, while a reduction in the community support worker service - to ‘partially offset the ending of temporary funding’ – will save £228,000.
Libraries also come under the communities portfolio, and the council wants to double fines for adults from 10p to 20p a day, saving the council £40,000.
The libraries and community services will also be temporarily reduced, saving £112,000.
Council leader Julie Dore acknowledged times were tough for the council staff having to deal with extra demand and uncertainty, some of which was caused by welfare reform and cuts to NHS funding.
“I can’t help but feel that right now there are people out there giving care to our elderly and people with disabilities, and keeping streets clean - and continuing to do that under pressure of having to be part of those cuts, and knowing that there are more coming down the line.”
“Thanks to them for the work that they keep doing.”