Uncertain times ahead for Sheffield's finances

For the first time in a decade, Sheffield’s finances are better - but the future is uncertain.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 1:03 pm

Sheffield Council chiefs say for the first time in years, the Government has recognised how much the city is struggling and has slightly increased its funding.

But they still need to make £15m of savings next year - and there’s no details about future funding which means officers are struggling to plan ahead.

David Phillips, head of strategic finance, told a scrutiny meeting: “We have had 10 years of austerity and within that, very significant funding cuts. This is a long term significant decline in finances.

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“The spending review last year was the first for 10 years which was positive and recognised our need for funding.

“Instead of getting a cut, we actually got an increase and that will enable us to fill the gap for the first time between the pressures and resources so this has been an easier budget than for some time.”

The council won’t need to dip into its reserves this year but it doesn’t know its funding past 2021.

“That’s a major challenge for us,” said Mr Phillips. “There is a lot of uncertainty for future years. We are not falling off the edge but we need commitment from the government moving forward.”

Deputy Council Leader Terry Fox said social care was still the biggest cost.

“How officers continue to get a balanced budget is beyond me. We have had Brexit and a general election and have had to manage our way through these and it’s become clear that local authorities are the ones which are going to have to shield the most vulnerable in society.

“We have put an extra £53m into social care over the last three years but we still have funding pressures and that’s not easy to address.

“The rising cost of social care for our elderly people remains an issue that urgently needs addressing.

“The current model of social care is unsustainable but despite various reviews over the past 20 years, no solution has emerged from central government and one is urgently required.”