“Councils have faced the deepest cuts” – stark warning as Sheffield Council sets out its budget

Councillor Olivia Blake
Councillor Olivia Blake

Sheffield Council chiefs have issued a stark warning after unveiling this year’s budget – austerity over the past nine years has taken its toll and it’s not over yet.

The headlines from the budget for 2019/20 are that council tax will rise by just under three per cent.

It means that a Band A property will see an increase of 58p per week. Last financial year, Band A properties paid £1,009 and this will rise to £1,039.

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.

There could be up to 133 redundancies but it’s hoped the final figure will be lower and some will be staff leaving naturally.

Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake said the council had to make difficult decisions to balance the £1.5 billion budget.

“Sheffield has borne the brunt of austerity for the last nine years and it’s certainly not over yet.

“The impact on all public services has been huge but local councils have faced the deepest and most sustained cuts.

“We have seen significant structural underfunding of our core work, in particular adult social care, for almost a decade. We have been forced to make difficult choices.

“We have a financial plan to get us through the next four years but we can’t continue like this for much longer.”

Both adult and children’s social care remain the biggest pressures. The council has had to invest an extra £35m over the last two years in these services alone.

Over the next financial year, the council will use of £11 million of reserves – its savings – to sustain social care amid cuts from Government funding and rising pressures on the services.

Coun Blake added: “The only alternative to using reserves would be to make a significant cut to social care budgets, which would hit some of the most vulnerable children and adults hard and at a time when welfare cuts are also impacting on households.

“Despite these brutal cuts to funding, we have identified a further £20m to invest in social care, on top of £15m last year.”

The budget is subject to change as the Government has not yet announced its settlement for Sheffield. The police and fire authorities also have to add in their precepts to the council tax. The budget will go before Cabinet on February 13 and then to full council on March 6.