Sheffield City Council faces £44m overspend from COVID-19 as councillor accuses Government of “empty rhetoric”

The Council is facing a budget crisis this year, partly caused by additional funding for COVID-19 services.

By: John Gilding
Date: 06/10/2021

Sheffield City Council is facing an overspend of nearly £44m for this year, partly caused by additional funding for COVID-19 services.

Councillor Cate McDonald has submitted a motion to the Council which challenges the Government to take responsibility for the consistent underfunding of local authorities over the past decade.

Cllr. McDonald said in her motion: “Successive governments have failed to deliver, and have appeared ideologically driven to cutting public services and pushing the burden of responsibility onto cash-strapped local authorities.

“Despite the recent announcement from the Government to increase taxes to, in the words of the Prime Minister, ‘fix the crisis in social care’, it is far from clear how the Government’s plan will deliver on this.”

The proposal will be discussed at the meeting of the full council today.

If passed, the Council will formally challenge the Government to use the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to provide councils with sufficient and fair funding that is sustainable for the future.

Over the last decade, a combination of cuts from successive governments, inflation and a rising demand for council services has created a 31 per cent decrease in the Council’s spending power.

Cllr. McDonald, the Executive Member for Finance and Resources, described the Council’s current financial position as precarious, and cuts will have to be made in every sector to bring the authority’s spending down.

The motion also states: “For all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer austere cuts above the national average.

“This Council will do everything it can to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, and to continue delivering on our goal of creating a prosperous, fairer Sheffield – tackling inequalities and the climate emergency, strengthening the local economy with better jobs and opportunities, and with improved quality of life for all”

Voluntary early retirement and voluntary severance schemes are already in place as a starting point for the money-saving measures.

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