This is what Sheffield Council's budget will mean for you

Council tax in Sheffield is set to rise, while social care continues to be a significant pressure on finances.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 1:26 pm

The council has released its draft budget which shows it needs just over £420million to balance the books, but there is also a funding gap of £35million over the next four years.

There will be a few political wrangles before this budget is approved at full council in March, but here’s what you need to know.

How much is my council tax going up?

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Council tax is set to increase from April/ Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

Check which band your house is in, this chart shows how much council tax you’ll pay from April:

Band A: £1,080.93

Band B: £1,261.10

Band C: £1,441.24

Band D: £1,621.40

Band E: £1,981.70

Band F: £2,342.03

Band G: £2,702.32

Band H: £3,242.80

That’s a lot on council tax!

It’s not just money for the council - you’re also paying towards the Police and Crime Commissioner and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

Plus if you live in an area covered by Bradfield, Ecclesfield or Stocksbridge parish councils you pay towards those too.

Council tax is actually only increasing by just under two percent - the other two percent is specifically an adult social care precept.

Why does council tax always go up?

Inflation and the increasing demand for services continue to outstrip any funding available.

Even after significant savings, the gap still stands at £35million.

Budget savings and service efficiencies will have to be delivered over the next few years to achieve a balanced budget and protect frontline services.

Why am I paying extra for social care?

It continues to be a significant cost with increasing demand - even with additional funding, it completely outstrips any rise in council tax.

The council is putting in an extra £17.9m and says this shows an “ongoing commitment” to its most vulnerable residents.

But officers add “The increase understates the scale of the challenge facing the council’s social care services.

“This level of additional funding has only been possible via a combination of an increase in the social care grant and the council’s difficult decision to increase council tax.

“The council has had to balance the extra costs to Sheffield taxpayers from the increase, with the need to protect its social care services to its most vulnerable residents.”

What does it mean for me and my family?

The groups most impacted are disabled people, older and young people, women, carers and people on low incomes.

If you previously had a service this may be changed, reduced or cancelled as the council focuses on those most in need.

Officers warn people who are not in the greatest need, but who are struggling financially, may find it difficult to pay for alternative provision.

“As we target the households in most need, there will be an inevitable impact on those who are still struggling financially but are not on the lowest incomes and who will be not eligible for targeted programmes.

“The biggest impact is likely to be on families with dependent children.”

Is the council’s piggy bank empty?

The council is holding £12.6million in reserves to deal with unknown emergencies, which they say is low compared to other authorities.

Last year it dipped into its savings and took the unusual step of using reserves of £11.2million to avoid making further cuts to frontline services.

The one-off borrowing will be repaid within future budgets.

Is the council broke?

No, it has balanced its budget and it does expect to receive a ‘funding uplift’ of £30million from a mix of grants and increases to local taxation.

Of this, £11.2m will be repaid into reserves and the remainder will fund increases in services - mainly social care.

So things are back on track?

Not quite.

There are three key factors at play that could undermine future budgets.

Officers say: “The council has an excellent track record of delivery, but nine years of reductions make it harder every year to achieve more.”

The second issue is a lack of stable funding from central government that recognises the pressures in social care linked to the NHS.

And while the council and health services are working together more, if they don’t achieve significant savings there could be problems ahead.

This all sounds pretty gloomy

Afraid so.

Officers say “We will focus on ensuring we do not slide backwards or lose ground in tackling existing persistent areas of inequality.

“However, it is inevitable when funding levels have been cut year on year that there is an impact on the services we deliver, including some of the work we do with people who are most vulnerable.

“We have tried to minimise the impact on those in greatest need and most at risk. However, these are extremely challenging choices and difficult decisions have to be made.”