Budget numbers don’t stack up

From: Dr David Drew

Psalter Lane, Sheffield S11

An £80m Budget cut (10%) has been passed by Sheffield City Council and Paul Scriven is pretending services have been protected. A close reading of the 279 page Budget paper shows that the numbers don’t stack up.

In the first place more jobs will be lost than the 270 headlined by Nick Clegg. The Budget document is unclear but calculations from the data suggest that the Budget allows for as many as 1100 jobs to be cut. A factor not included is that a third of the Budget is paid to contractors and there are knock on effects when services are contracted out. The transfer of leisure centres to Sheffield International Venues has already resulted in 20 job cuts. Thus the total losses could be as high as 1395. There are additional effects on local businesses and shops. When the Deputy PM says that the job loss figures ‘are far fewer than the thousands Labour were bandying about’ he is making a cheap (and inaccurate) point about a serious issue.

In the second place, the cuts on services are deep. The Budget is rather light on detail here but some examples (with figures if available) are:

On the young people and families budget: Connexions savings (£2.4m); reductions in maintained childcare provision (£2m); schools paying more for music, arts, outdoor education, and governor support; changes in social care for children and families; changing services to children with disabilities; removing subsidies to childcare providers and reducing youth services including targeted support to travellers.

On the communities budget: reduction in the number of Community Support Officers; moving to personal budgets for adult social care and considering increased charges for old people who can pay.

On leisure facilities budget: reducing levels of service and charging for services (£4.1m); charges for car parking at Hillsborough, Graves and Millhouses Park; reductions in standards and opening hours and Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre, Heeley Pool, Stocksbridge Leisure Centre and Springs Leisure Centre to be managed by Sheffield International Venues. On the jobs budget: less support to micro businesses and self-employed people.

Services will be cut, jobs lost and charges for services increased. Sheffield people are right to be angry.