Even the cost of dying is going up in budget

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SHEFFIELD this week confirmed the depth of the local government cuts over the next year – £54.7m with the loss of 550 jobs.

The number of posts being removed is 140 fewer than a previous estimate, which formed the basis of a proposed redundancy package submitted to the Government.

But the latest financial picture remains bleak, with budget reductions being finalised across the board.

The council says its overall strategy is to give priority to frontline operations and services to vulnerable people at the expense of “backroom” functions.

Adult social care will get 5% less, for example, while business strategy will be hit by 29%, IT services by 26%, human resources by 15%, finance by 12%.

But more details emerged this week of the range of activities and organisations that will be hit by a swathe of cost cutting and income generation.

Parking permit fees are being doubled, planning application fees will go up 11% this year and 11% next year, community transport will be scaled back and the number of respite care beds reduced.

A rolling programme of repairs to the Christmas illuminations will be halted, overtime reduced for city centre ambassadors and there will be no more extra cleaning of Millennium Square in the city centre.

Even the cost of dying will be affected. A grave will cost £690 instead of £645 and digging it will go up from £600 to £645. Cremation fees are set to rise from £521 to £555.

Voluntary groups will bear some of the burden, with an overall cut of 5%, which the council admits will result in a reduction in funding to the majority of groups, and “significant reductions” to some groups.

There’s a warning to councillors that it could reduce the authority’s ability to deliver plans to tackle poverty and improve social justice, affect some organisations working with vulnerable people with complex needs and lead to potential legal challenges.

The council will formally set a new budget next month.