Labour slams “sticking plaster” over budget cuts at Sheffield Council
The Government is offering a “a short term and inadequate sticking plaster” to the rising cost of social care in Sheffield, says a senior councillor.
Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake says the authority has been able to keep people healthy and well but this approach is now “threatened” because of continued deep cuts in social care funding.
For the first time, the amount of money the council needs to spend is more than its income and the only way to balance the budget is to dip into savings.
The council needs to make £30 million worth of savings – this takes the total of savings and cuts over the last nine years of austerity to £460m. Over the next financial year, the council will use of £11 million of reserves.
“The ninth budget is set in the context of massive and unprecedented cuts to local authority budgets across the country,” said Coun Blake.
“Austerity has affected all public services and the impact is clear, but local councils have faced the deepest and most sustained cuts.
“Despite this, Sheffield and many other councils have kept a focus on delivering good services for local people, by making often difficult choices.
“Like all councils, the extended period of cuts is now combined with rising pressures for both children and adult social care.
“Nationally, it is accepted by all apart from central government, that social care services are unsustainable in the next few years, and that the resulting reductions to services will increasingly undermine the NHS.
“Social care pressures, like others such as homelessness, are themselves partly a result of Government austerity policies, with an obvious consequence for people’s lives.
“The Government continues to offer only short-term and inadequate ‘sticking plaster’ solutions to this fundamental problem.”
Coun Blake says the council was determined to set a budget that keeps people healthy before they reach crisis point.
But she added: “This approach is threatened in the next few years, and this budget marks an important turning point: for the first time planned expenditure exceeds income and the only way we can balance the budget is through the use of reserves.
“This overspend is not the result of imprudence or mismanagement – it is forced by trying to sustain social care services in the context of the cuts to our overall funding.”