Rotherham council tax rise to help pay for child protection work

File picture of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
File picture of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
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A council tax rise paid by Rotherham residents will be used to help fund new measures to protect young people after the child sex abuse scandal.

Rotherham Council’s next budget includes an extra £824,000 to be spent on outreach youth work for children at risk of exploitation, more social workers and support for victims of abuse.

The town has been overshadowed by scandal after the Jay report revealed at least 1,400 children were victims of child sex abuse in the town over a 16 year period, and authorities had turned a blind eye to the problem.

Another recent report found the council was ‘in denial’ about the problem.

The new measures will be paid for in part by a proposed council tax rise - the first for five years - of 1.95 per cent, or £16.12 extra a year on a Band A property.

Government funding will also be used.

However, there will also be cuts to services as the council faces a spending gap of £23 million.

They include axing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library scheme to improve childhood literacy set up in 2007 - in order to save £400,000; reducing the number of buildings the council owns and closing a learning centre.

School meals will increase by 5p per meal from September 2015.

Money generated from the council tax increase - to total an additional £590,000 - will be used towards £200,000 worth of street cleaning to tackle litter and weeds.

The council says households on low incomes will continue to have access to a tax reduction scheme.

Another £5 million is to be spent on road maintenance across the borough.

Coun Chris Read, who was made the new leader of the council this week after its entire cabinet stood down, said: “We are making good on our commitment to bolster and improve children’s services after the Jay and Casey Reports, and to provide stable funding for the long term support that victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation need.

“We have heard directly the concerns of residents about littering and the state of the roads, so these areas will also see additional investment.”

Councillors’ allowances are to be brought into line with other authorities and a car used by a former leader axed, while international visits for members will be reduced.

More services will be put online and drug and alcohol services will be restructured.

Government commissioners are to be appointed to run the council but are not yet in place.

If they are not in place by next Thursday the budget will be agreed by the current cabinet.

A final decision rests with full council in March but the budget could change.