Sheffield Council facing £21 million of cuts next year - Government

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Sheffield Council is expected to face cuts of around £21.6m next year, it has been said today after the Local Government Settlement was announced.

The announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon said that councils would face an average cut of 1.8 per cent.

In Sheffield the £21.6m cut amounts to 4.2 per cent.

In the Commons Communities and Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said councils would be left with “substantial spending power”.

New homes bonus funding has been ‘provisionally allocated’ for next year and councils needed to use tools given to them - such as business rates and council tax revenue - to help themselves.

But South East Sheffield MP Clive Betts, chairman of the local Government committee, said the percentage cut that local councils will face next year is larger than all central government departments have faced collectively.

Responding to the announcement, Coun Colin Ross, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sheffield Council, said: “Dealing with less funding is a challenge, but this settlement confirms that Sheffield will still enjoy significantly more spending power per head than many affluent areas in the south.”

He also said that Labour politicians would cry ‘crocodile tears’ over the cuts but wouldn’t restore ‘a penny’ if they came to power. He called on the Labour-controlled council to collect £39m in outstanding council tax.

Coun Ross added: “The frustrating thing is that these reductions could be offset and many front line services protected if Labour councillors in the Town Hall got their act together.

“There is £39m in uncollected council tax which makes the local authority one of the worst offenders in the country.

“Local taxpayers who pay their bills have every right to be infuriated that this money isn’t being collected.”

The council has not yet responded to the announcement.

Earlier this year it launched a consultation saying the council was expecting a further £60m of reductions. That included an estimated £38m of cuts and £23m in ‘additional pressures’.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said the real cut was likely to be higher after complex calculations of funding and grants had been completed.

He said: “I was shocked by the complacency of Kris Hopkins when he said that councils like Sheffield were positively transforming their services.

“That clearly is nonsense, he wants to come and talk to my constituents. The public realm is being decimated.”

For more on this story see tomorrow’s Star.