Wednesday 18 November 2015

Safeguarding vulnerable people, the future employment of young people, and protecting the least well off are some of the key priorities Sheffield City Council leaders will aim to protect as much as they can from budget cuts.

They want to make sure key areas are given greatest protection under the next round of budget cuts, expected to be dished out by the Government later this year.

These key areas are:

• frontline child safeguarding
• adult care
• apprenticeships
• the Best Start programme
• council house building
• living wage commitment

But now they are asking the public in Sheffield to get involved, and give their views on whether these are the priorities that Sheffield residents also agree should be protected.

A public consultation on the budget is beginning this week, starting with a public event at the Town Hall tomorrow (November 19).

At the same time, the council is launching for the second year running an innovative animation via social media in order to engage as many people as possible in the budget process.
Already leaders have met members of the voluntary, faith and community organisations to make them aware of the changes that may have to be faced with further cuts expected to the council’s budget from central Government.
Councillor Ben Curran, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources said: “The Government is making cuts to local government funding again this year. Over the last five years we have had to find savings of £300 million and we are expecting another £50 million this year.

“The Government’s cuts are unfair and targeted at cities like Sheffield. The reality is that this has an impact on services offered to residents in Sheffield. We are doing our best to be a shield for the city by protecting services where we can. We are doing our best to protect those who need us the most but the scale and pace of the Government’s cuts are making that very difficult.

“Despite this, we have managed the hand we have been dealt with competence and can be trusted to do the same again. But what we really want to do is hear directly from people about the services they want us to concentrate on protecting now and in the future. Please come forward as we want to hear from you.”

Some of the ways the council has saved money is by:

• consolidating costs
• refinancing debt
• renegotiating contracts
• opting for cheaper contracts.

Examples of savings include alternate weekly bin collections, which have saved the council £10m so far and by deleting managerial posts in order to save around £7m in the last four years.

Deals to save money have also included renegotiating contracts like with Streets Ahead contractor Amey, which is expected to save up to £14 million over the remainder of the contract.

Since 2010, the amount of funding Sheffield City Council gets in its main Government grant has been cut by 50 per cent. At the same time, the Council is facing further budget pressures, due to factors such as a rising population and other legislative changes the Government has made.

Over the same time period, Sheffield City Council has had to find savings of £300m and predictions indicate a further £50m to come, expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The budget special event will look at the cuts the council is facing and how these can be achieved. Council Leader Julie Dore, Cllr Curran and Chief Executive John Mothersole will speak and take questions.

The evening has been organised in order to provide information and also enable people to have their say on how the council should meet its budget challenge.

There will be a range of opportunities for local people, businesses, partner organisations, and voluntary and community groups to discuss specific proposals. A further public meeting will be held in the New Year.

Councillor Curran added: “The task of setting a balanced budget is becoming more and more difficult. It is vital that we consult with the people of Sheffield at the very start of this process, to find out what is important to them and test our thinking with them. There are a lot of difficult decisions to be taken. We want to make sure that the decisions we take reflect the views of the public.”

Members of the public are being invited to get involved with the consultation in a number of different ways, which is detailed online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/budget .

Everyone is free to attend the public meeting, which runs from 6pm to 7.30pm but places must be booked in advance. Call 0114 273 5417 or email PPCBusinessSupport@sheffield.gov.uk to book

One of the next key milestones in the budget process will be the Government’s Spending Review and Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which are due to be announced next week on 25 November. These will set out the Government’s spending plans for each department, including the Department for Communities and Local Government.

ENDS

For more information please contact Emma Hollingworth, Communications, on 0114 205 3546 or 07710 737905. Email emma.hollingworth@sheffield.gov.uk

For out of hours media enquiries please ring 07711 153995.