Council leaders protest as spending cuts continue over the coming year

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Council leaders in Sheffield and six other major English cities have written to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles claiming deprived areas are bearing the brunt of budget cuts.

In an open letter to Mr Pickles, the leaders of city councils in Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds said they had already made ‘diligent and innovative’ savings over the past two years.

The councils warn: “None of us is under any illusion about the need for spending reductions but the cuts we are being asked to make will go far beyond the level at which we can protect services.”

Sheffield Council said it still does not know its exact Government grant for next year – though it is planning for a substantial reduction, which will lead to £50 million spending cuts.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, said: “I am not holding any hope that my fear of local government seeing deeper and more devastating cuts to services will be allayed.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Councils have been protected from harsher spending reductions for 2013-14, where the average spending power reduction is just 1.7 per cent.

“The Government is helping councils grow their economies through bespoke city deals, including Sheffield’s which is worth £572 million.”