Sheffield Council could ‘depend’ on taxes if major cuts continue

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Sheffield Council could be ‘entirely dependent’ on money raised from council tax and business rates if major cuts continue, its chief executive has said.

John Mothersole spoke after the council revealed its proposals to meet this year’s £63m black hole following £240m that has already been axed in the last four years.

Next year council tax in Sheffield is set to rise by 1.99 per cent - equivalent to £29 a year on a Band D property - while up to 200 job posts could be scrapped.

It is the first time council tax has been raised in five years, as it was previously frozen using a Government grant.

And opposition councillors have also called for the council to take the freeze grant instead.

Mr Mothersole said that if funding blows continued on the same scale it was ‘conceivable that Sheffield and other councils like us will be receiving no mainstream Government grant whatsoever so will be entirely dependent on council tax and business rates.”

Campaigners from Sheffield Benefits Justice Campaign protested outside the town hall on Tuesday night as the proposals were put to a packed public meeting - calling for the council to ’stop council tax terror’.

Inside grandmother Linda Duckenfield told councillors that they should look at ‘progressive’ suggestions such as ‘taxing the rich’ and asking people to make a voluntary payment.

Afterwards the 63-year-old, of Heeley, said: “The cuts are definitely going to impact on the poorest people and the most vulnerable people in this city - I was shocked by the presentation because they used words like restructuring rather than what it really is, cutting.”

The council says it will have £1.3m extra on top of what the freeze grant would have provided which will make a ‘big difference’.

But Coun Colin Ross, Sheffield Liberal Democrat party leader, said: “Regardless, we would take the money from central Government rather than from the people of Sheffield in a time of austerity.”

High profile cuts such as the controversial ones to bin collections, libraries and gritting in the past four years have not yet been revealed for the 2015-16 budget.

Major contracts will be renegotiated, and the transport levy cut, to save around £15m.

But £38m will be saved from service departments.

Care packages for adults - including those with mental health needs - could be retendered and customer services will be pushed to more online channels.n Council chiefs stressed that ‘we are not turning the phones off’.

Some services - like adoption and Youth Justice - could be provided Yorkshire wide.

The meeting on Tuesday heard that short breaks and respite services for families will also be reviewed.