Further council cuts will bite even deeper

julieram'Julie Dore
julieram'Julie Dore
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A SWATHE of further cuts - hitting ordinary households, businesses and the vulnerable - has been revealed in Sheffield Council’s budget plans for the forthcoming financial year.

Details had already been made public about a 14 per cent rise in fees for council sports pitches, implementation of parking charges at three city parks, and cuts to arts and cultural groups.

But yesterday’s report showed further details of how the budget cuts will bite.

In care and support services, while some senior managers are to be made redundant, 29 jobs are to be axed among people who escort vulnerable or disabled people on transport.

Another 10 social services minibus routes are to be cut, and seven staff will lose their jobs to save £308,000. Thirty-five staff who support people with complex mental health needs will have their jobs axed to save £1.197m. The council says the private sector provides an equivalent service.

A further 25 jobs will go with the ending of night-time visiting for vulnerable people, to save £865,000. Again, the council says cover is provided ‘in the independent sector’.

There will be a review of charging for the city-wide alarms service - despite charges having risen already by 18 per cent last year.

And 42 ‘intermediate care resource’ beds will go, leading to 45 job losses and £1.45m saved.

Rutland Road respite centre will close, with the loss of three staff. In total, respite bed numbers will drop from eight to six, saving £100,000.

Eleven asylum service support staff will be cut due to an end to Home Office funding, four support staff for police safer neighbourhood teams are to go, and there will be four fewer youth offending team staff.

In transport, £48,000 will be saved by cancelling six community link bus services, shedding two jobs.

Cuts to household waste recycling centre opening hours will go ahead to save £653,000. The council has pledged at least one recycling site will be open each day and all sites will be open Friday to Sunday.

The major events budget will shrink by £220,000 including £78,000 less to spend on city centre events and £21,000 less for the annual Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park.

A £90,000 small grants fund for community groups is to be axed.

Many parking permit fees will be doubled for household and business vehicles within zones around the city.

Fees will go up from £10 to £20 for each first car per household, £20 to £40 for businesses’ first vehicles, and £30 to £60 for second household vehicles. Second business vehicle permit charges will rise from £60 to £90.

The £5 cost to replace or change permits will rise to £15 and the cost of household visitor pass booklets will quadruple from £2.50 to £10.

The council aims to make further savings of £330,000 from energy conservation, £1.2m by axing 40 financial control managers who oversee spending across departments, and seven of 32 communications staff will go to save £193,000.

At the same time, £400,000 will be spent on ‘appropriate’ communications to inform people about the reduction in black bin collections from weekly to fortnightly. Up to £1m could also have to be spent on ‘changeover costs’ incurred by contractor Veolia, including up to 40 redundancies.

It is estimated the bins change will save only £1.6m next year, compared to £2.44m a year in subsequent years, because it will not be implemented immediately in April.