The end of Sheffield Council as we know it

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PUBLIC services are at risk of collapse Sheffield Council’s leader has warned after Chancellor George Osborne announced three more years of austerity measures.

Coun Julie Dore said more spending cuts for 2015-18 – on top of the four years of reductions the authority is facing until 2015 – could spell ‘the end of the council as we know it’.

The council has cut spending by £130 million over the last two years and axed 1,400 jobs.

A further 600 jobs are to be lost over the next year as another £50 million is slashed from the authority’s £480 million budget, while a further year of savings is also planned for 2014-15.

But Coun Dore said: “Another three years of austerity on top of that will mean the end of the council as we know it.

“I have already said the first two years and £140 million of savings have been tough and now we have to seriously consider cuts to frontline services.

“To have another three years of cuts will cause the whole social infrastructure we have to collapse and services will go. Local authorities have already taken the greatest cuts across public services. Enough is enough.”

The council is awaiting confirmation of its Government grant for the coming year, but does not believe it will have to alter its planned savings.

John Mothersole, chief executive, said: “We will probably be waiting for final details until before Christmas for the next year, but what is clear is austerity is going to go on.”

Rod Padley, convenor for trade union Unison at the council, said: “Some services will go to the wall if austerity continues.

“News cannot get blacker than this.”

Emergency services are also bracing themselves for spending cuts, while the Green Party has hit out at further plans for welfare spending cuts.

Douglas Johnson, Sheffield Green Party, spokesman said: “Cuts in welfare spending are unnecessary and wrong.”

But Liberal Democrats on the council pointed out ‘positive’ aspects of the budget, such as the rise in the income tax threshold and cancellation of a three pence rise in fuel tax.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, group leader, said: “I’m delighted that during difficult times Lib Dems have delivered a £600 tax break for thousands of working families across Sheffield.

“Obviously, the Chancellor’s statement set some tough choices but we did not enter Government to make easy decisions. Repairing the country’s broken economy is far more important than party political games.”

Community representatives in Sheffield said residents will be affected by further austerity – in whichever part of the city they live.

Mary McKinnon, of Dore Village Society, said: “Nobody likes it. In Dore, it will be as difficult as it is anywhere else – we have people on lower incomes living here.”

Terry Andrews, of Base Green Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “It’s just going to get harder and harder for everybody.”