Councillor's plea for public backing in face of further Government cuts
Councillors have urged residents to back plans to boost Sheffield's economy as Government support dwindles.
The authority faces a further £22.8 million cut to its central funding in 2017/18, taking the total loss since the start of the Government’s austerity measures to more than £350 million.
Residents have already been asked to accept a 4.99 per cent increase in council tax.
But the council’s deputy leader Leigh Bramall has issued a plea to the city to back projects such as the retail quarter and the Chinese investment deal, which he said were ‘crucial’ to Sheffield’s success.
Coun Bramall said Sheffield had to grasp that it needed to change and adapt in order to survive the current climate.
Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, where a draft 2017/18 budget designed to save £40 million was approved, he said: “The city staying as it is is not going to lead to use having a successful future.
“It is my plea to the city as a whole that we really need to continue to develop.”
The council tax hike is split into a 1.99 per cent basic increase plus an extra three per cent rise to pay for adult social care services - the maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered.
It will take the council’s total tax income to £191 million for 2017/18, and will mean a Sheffield property in band D - valued between £68,001 and £88,000 - will pay an extra £78.90 a year.
The authority predicts an income of £96.7 million in business rates in the coming year, which is down by about £9.6 million from the £106.3 million collected in 2016/17.
The Government wants councils to become self-sufficient, and will allow them to keep 100 per cent of business rates by 2020. Currently authorities can only keep 49 per cent.
But thanks to cuts of £22.8 million, £15.4 million and £15.5 million over the next three years, the council only expects a Government grant of £36.9 million in 2019/20, down from £90.6 million in 2016/17.
Before identifying savings, the council predicted a budget shortfall of £40 million. But authority believes the gap has been bridged through a £4 million contribution from reserves, the tax increase and savings across council departments.
This includes £9.9 million from communities - which includes housing and adult social care - £7.1 million from children, young people families, and £7.1 million from place - including waste and licensing.
Over the next five years the total budget shortfall is expected to be £116 million, so more savings will need to be identified.
Council leaders have already warned as many as 225 jobs may have to go this year to deal with the cuts.
The budget will now go before full council for final approval on March 3.
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