The budget in bite sized pieces – what does it mean for you?

What does it mean for you?

By Lucy Ashton
Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 12:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 12:17 pm
What does the budget mean for you?
What does the budget mean for you?

How much money does the council need to save?

The council anticipates having to find £70m of savings over the next four years. Next year alone, there is a gap of £23m.

David Phillips, head of strategic finance, explains: “We have a four year programme and try to tackle this rather than salami slice.

“We have a holistic view to balancing the budget rather than cutting it up in lots of small slices.”

What’s it spending all the money on?

Much of the pressure is coming from increases in demand for adults and children’s social care.

The council has prioritised these services over the last few years with £35m of investments in the last two years alone.

Back-office services have been reduced to free up vital resources to support social care but the council has forecast pressures of £89m over the next four years.

Will my council tax go up?

A rise in Council Tax is “inevitable” next year to protect services.

Since the Government’s austerity programme began nine years ago, Sheffield Council has seen its funding from the government cut by over £200m.

The cuts – coupled with increasing demands on services and inflation – have left the council having to find over £460m worth of savings.

The Hardship Fund will be increased to support people struggling to pay their Council Tax.

Will I see any changes in my neighbourhood?

The council will also need to look at its capital funding – which is money spent on buildings.

David says: “We have to work out what we are doing with Central Library and leisure facilities and there is a series of capital decisions we need to make.

“By creating space with revenue grants it gives an opportunity for members to have a really good debate on the capital side.”

Why can’t the council borrow some money?

The council has to set a budget in early March to determine Council Tax and we get into an awful lot of trouble if we don’t,” explains David.

“Unlike central government, we have to set a balanced budget so we can’t borrow £50m to balance the books.

“We are under a strict financial regime and for the last 10 years the budget has been difficult and demanding and we have made painful decisions in services.

What will happen next?

The uncertainty around Brexit and constant talk of a general election has left finance bosses on limbo. They would like to plan for several years ahead but are only getting short term funding.

“What’s going to happen by 2021? I can’t tell you,” says David.

“The national situation is chaotic and we have no idea who is going to be in power or if there will be a general election.

“We don’t know what will happen from 2021 onwards because who knows what we will get.”

I want to have a say – what can I do?

The council is planning to consult with residents about the budget over the next few months and are keen to hear people’s thoughts. A series of events will be announced.