Anger over unspent cash despite cuts to Sheffield services

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LESS than a tenth of £5.3 million in Government funding given to Sheffield Council has been spent – 18 months after it was received.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors have found only £420,000 of the money has been used, while £50 million of cuts have been announced.

The money, from the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme which rewards construction of new properties, is intended to support house-building in Sheffield.

In August 2011, Liberal Democrats said they proposed spending £1.9 million of the fund bringing 6,500 empty homes back into use, but the plan was opposed by Labour councillors.

However, Labour says the remaining money is committed to helping develop future projects worth a total of £7.1m.

Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Lib Dem finance spokesman, said: “As Labour announced slash-and-burn cuts to services, they claimed the council had no money.

“However, here we have more than £5 million targeted to support jobs and homes in our city, which has sat unspent for almost two years.

“If the council had spent this money effectively, not only would it be creating jobs and providing affordable homes for families, but it would also be increasing income for the council at a time when it is desperately needed.

“Instead, we have had 18 months of dither and delay.”

The council’s ruling Labour group said the money will be spent on a series of projects, including an £815,000 fund to help developers struggling to get finance for construction projects, almost £1.3m to bring long-term empty properties into use, and a £1m regeneration of Spital Hill.

Coun Harry Harpham said: “We have committed the money we have already received and have plans for the expected future receipts.

“This is more nonsense from the Lib Dems who are yet again trying to mislead Sheffield people.”