Sheffield Council controversial decision on development money called in for more scrutiny

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

Councillors on the city’s scrutiny committee will debate plans to give a pot of development money to the most deprived areas of Sheffield.

It was unanimously decided by Sheffield City Council’s Labour cabinet that a £1.1m pot of money would be spent on the most deprived areas of the city.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development

At the time, councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development, said: “Given where we are in terms of Government cuts and our budget presently, we know this has had a disproportionate impact on some of our poorest communities.

“It is absolutely right that to mitigate some of the damage from austerity we take this approach, which is most in-line with our values and what we want to see.”

The money comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is a charge on all new developments, including housing, shops, commercial buildings and hotels.

It is used to provide infrastructure - such as play equipment or highway improvements - to support new developments and benefit residents.

Councillor Penny Baker, Stannington ward

Councillor Penny Baker, Stannington ward

The council started charging CIL in 2015 and built up a pot of money.

About 80 percent is spent on major citywide projects such as Don Valley flood defences.

Traditionally, the remaining £1.1m ‘neighbourhood’ portion goes towards the area in which the development took place, but the Labour-run council decided to give the money to the most deprived.

Following a report, which included a wide consultation, leading councillors approved plans to spend 90 percent on the most deprived areas, and the remaining 10 percent on wards where the development took place.

But it was called-in for scrutiny following concerns about the figures and how it would be implemented.

Labour coun Terry Fox, representative for Manor Castle ward, said: “I support the plans but I would like to see a caveat so that we can see those figures and have the opportunity to scrutinise those figures before they go.”

This view was backed by a number of councillors including Penny Baker, Liberal Democrat representative for Stannington ward, and Mark Jones, Labour representative for Burngreave ward.  

Coun Baker said: “It’s really a lack of conclusion in the cabinet report and a lack of information put into it, we need a conclusion for us to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that.”

Coun Scott said it was quite common for a second report to be published after with more details, and that it had reached a conclusion.

But as a result of the committee’s concerns, the decision was deferred and until figures are revealed to the committee and scrutinised before plans go further.

How best to spend the money was long debated by the cabinet and opposition councillors.