The leader of Sheffield Council has launched a stinging attack on the Government for repeatedly slashing funding – prompting a rise in food banks and homelessness.
Coun Julie Dore says the council’s budget has been ‘devastated’ by constant cuts leaving a £430m hole and reduction in services.
With the Labour Party Conference in full swing this week, Coun Dore said: “Sheffield Labour has been at the forefront of fighting this Government’s austerity programme, since it started in 2010 under the Tory Lib Dem coalition.
“It has devastated council funding by continuously slashing government grants over the course of a decade.
“This has put councils across the country on the brink, with one council unable to balance their books this year.
“In Sheffield we have seen cuts of around £430 million. These figures are shocking and have led to a reduction in services across the council at the same time as the impact of austerity has meant there is greater need for our services than ever and the costs of providing them are growing significantly.
“The Government is completely out of touch with the impact that its decisions have on real people’s lives and the real costs of austerity such as the avalanche of food banks and growth in homelessness.”
Coun Dore fears the situation could worsen when councils no longer receive direct government funding but have to rely on business rates.
“The cuts have hit our towns and cities in the north hardest at the same time as some of the wealthiest parts of the country have received hardly any cuts at all.
“Now the Government is saying it wants to replace funding with business rate retention which will further widen the gap between different councils and lead to a race to the bottom of areas competing with one another to bring in more business rates.
“We are calling for a needs-based settlement and an end to austerity with real investment to provide a sustainable way of funding our public services.”