The cuts pain runs much deeper, says MP Betts

MP Clive Betts outside Wm Morrisons Supermarket in Darnall
MP Clive Betts outside Wm Morrisons Supermarket in Darnall

SHEFFIELD South East Labour MP Clive Betts argued this week that the city was facing deeper spending cuts than those outlined by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

He dismissed statements by Mr Clegg that the Lib Dem-controlled council was making fewer reductions in services and jobs than comparable authorities.

“Nick Clegg seems to have brought the same level of accuracy to his claims about the real effect of Sheffield City Council’s budget as he did to his assertion last week that pensioners will not receive less winter fuel payment next winter than they received this year,” said Mr Betts.

“Neither stand up to scrutiny.”

In a Budget speech and an Early Day Motion, the Labour MP challenged Mr Clegg’s stance that the council was only losing 200 jobs, when the council’s own website confirmed that 737 jobs are going.

He said job losses did not include those being made by outsourced services, including sport and recreation, museums, refuse collection and benefit administration, and those in voluntary organisations whose budgets are being cut by 15%.

Mr Betts said that although the council was saying that no libraries were being closed, the libraries’ budget was being cut by £1.3m.

“It is already known that several mobile libraries are being cut but the Liberal Democrats have decided not to announce where the rest of the cuts will fall until after the local elections.”

Moreover, he said the council was digging into its balances, “which means that even bigger cuts will be required for the 2012/13 budget”.

He added: “It is inevitable that the new political administration – of whatever make-up – will have to start quickly making additional cuts in expenditure in 2011 to enable a lawful budget to be set in 2012/13.”

The Lib Dems insist they have been able to avoid the kind of more severe cuts seen in other authorities because they planned to reduce spending well in advance.