OPINION: Cut the cuts before Sheffield crumbles

Sheffield
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Another year, another round of swingeing cuts.

That’s the harsh reality for Sheffield Council, as the authority announces it will have to trim another 
£50 million from its annual budget in the next financial year.

That’s on top of £300 million the council has had to find down the back of the local government sofa in the past five years.

Much like the city’s libraries, that £50million financial black hole means more services will surely face the axe – not to mention 400 council staff, many of them likely Sheffield residents, preparing to lose their jobs.

What is clear is that life is surely going to get more difficult, not just for those 400 people but for residents of all walks of life city-wide.

Council tax is set to rise by 1.99 per cent. For a cheap Band A household, that’s £17.16 more coming out of your almost certainly stretched annual wages.

If the council does add a two per cent social care precept on top, it could be double that.

Not massive, but it could mean another few of packs of nappies for a struggling family.

It’s our job to hold Sheffield Council to account for what it does – as has been evident with ongoing issues like the trees and the Division Street shops, to name just a couple of examples.

But these are cuts the authority is being forced to make.

This is £50million less money being handed to the authority by central government, a government which with one hand promises to create a so-called ‘northern powerhouse’, and removes tens of millions of pounds from core northern councils like Sheffield with the other.

Yes, we all have to do our bit in the great national belt tightening. But conspiratorial murmurs persist that the Tory government is shielding blue councils from the worst of it while cutting Labour heartlands.

That’s probably a tad simplistic. But it’s hard to argue that David Cameron and co really want to help cities like Sheffield prosper when the hard numbers suggest otherwise.

We have been promised a return to prosperity, but for Sheffield, cuts follow cuts and there seems to be no end in sight.

It cannot continue.

It’s time to cut the cuts, now, before the city simply cannot take any more.

With £50million slashed next year, maybe we’re already there. All we can do is stand up and make our voices heard to those in power.

Email George Osborne, and let him know enough is enough: george.osborne.mp@parliament.uk