Public services across South Yorkshire are facing tens of millions of Government cuts next year in what has been branded a ‘kick in the teeth’.
Government figures said Sheffield Council would face a reduction in ‘spending power’ of about £21.6 million – or 4.2 per cent – after the Local Government Settlement was announced yesterday. But the council claimed its revenue support grant will actually be slashed by £42.7m, from £157.4m to £114.7m.
Cash-strapped South Yorkshire Police is to lose almost £10m from April, the Home Office confirmed, and Government figures say South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will have £2.3m axed.
The three other councils across the county – Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley – are braced for a combined ‘spending power’ reduction of £21m, each also higher than the national average reduction of 1.8 per cent.
Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said: “It is another kick in the teeth for Sheffield. I was shocked by the complacency of local government minister Kris Hopkins, who said councils like Sheffield were positively transforming their services in response. He ought to come and talk to my constituents whose adult social care has been affected – our public realm is being decimated.”
The council has already saved £240m in the last four years – cutting services to libraries and gritting, as well as jobs.
Leaders say they will have lost 50 per cent of core Government funding since 2010.
Coun Ben Curran, cabinet member for finance, said yesterday’s announcement was a ‘continued attack on services provided by this council’.
South Yorkshire Police is already in the process of trying to save £42 million by 2016, which has seen police officer and support staff numbers slashed and the axing of the cold case murder review team.
Chief Superintendent David Hartley this year warned the force was reaching a ‘tipping point’ and said there will ‘ultimately be an adverse impact’ on the service.
Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, said of the latest announcement: “Officers are more and more stressed and sick levels are going through the roof. Basically, we can’t cope.
“It is a kick in the teeth, but we did think more cuts would come and we had plans in place.
“However, those plans aren’t enough to cover everything that gets thrown at us.”
The Reverend Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, said the force was still awaiting final details of the grant allocations, but the reduction was ‘substantial’ and ‘larger than anticipated’.
He said: “It presents a real challenge for us, because all the savings that can be made without impacting on front-line policing have largely been made in previous years.
“If we continue to protect every aspect of front-line policing – which is what the public want – something else will have to give. As a result, some very hard choices will have to be made in 2015.”
Sheffield Council launched a public consultation earlier this year in which it said it expected to see another £38m of cuts, plus another £28m of ‘additional pressures’.
But the Government said the reduction was the lowest in this Parliament, councils with the most need had been prioritised, and it left authorities with ‘considerable total spending power’.
Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, Doncaster Council is to lose £8.2m of spending power, Rotherham Council £7.4m and Barnsley £5.5m. Chesterfield Council faces a 6.4 per cent cut of £750,000.