The Prime Minister needs to “get out of her bunker” and see how people in the city are suffering from austerity, says the Leader of Sheffield Council.
Coun Julie Dore launched a stinging attack on the Government as the council grapples with £30 million worth of cuts – this takes the total amount lost over the last nine years of austerity to £460m.
“If Theresa May got out of her bunker she would see the reality for us in Sheffield is very different,” she told a recent meeting of the full council.
“The Government has indulged in cynical and hypocritical behaviour and I believe the people of Sheffield won’t forget what they did.
“We are having to make more cuts and deal with the consequences of austerity of nearly a decade.
“As councillors we all come into this as we believe in public services and making our communities better and addressing some of the deep-rooted social challenges but we are being forced to cut more services.”
Coun Dore said austerity was impacting on crime, homelessness and pushing families towards food banks.
“Theresa May said there was not a link between fewer police officers and more crime but it’s obvious there’s a fundamental link.
“It’s not just the case for the police, when you cut back public services to the bone it does make a difference. The impact of austerity can be seen in the growth of homelessness and food banks.”
Coun Dore said the council would continue to protect the most vulnerable in the city, especially young people.
“We need to focus on protecting the people most in need of help and supporting them. We will do everything in our power to protect the people of Sheffield from this Government’s agenda. We remain focused on providing the core services.
“We have been able to innovate and protect many services and that’s down to staff working hard to keep services running on depleted budgets and a drastic reduction in the council’s workforce. It can be seen as a thankless task and their dedication is something we should be proud of.
“We will give great protection to services for people in need and we continue to fund the community and voluntary sectors as people most affected by austerity are dependent on them.
“In 2011 when we came into administration the main concern was for the future of young people with reducing youth unemployment and investing money in apprenticeships despite cuts.
“More important than that is for us to do everything we can to ensure austerity doesn’t widen the gap that opportunities we provide for young people. The circumstances of your birth have the greatest impact on the life you will have.”
Sheffield Liberal Democrats said Labour was still paying off debts from decades ago. Lib Dem Leader Shaffaq Mohammed said: “Despite the financial challenges that are faced by Sheffield Council, this Labour administration has still had choices about how and where to spend our city’s money.
“The taxpayers of Sheffield are not just paying for the cost of poor decision-making by local Labour politicians for the last eight years, they are in fact still footing the bill for decisions made decades earlier, at a time when I was still at secondary school – decisions made around hosting the financially disastrous World Student Games. Taxpayers continue to pay almost £20 million each year to repay debts linked to major sporting facilities for years to come.”