More Tory cuts lie ahead

The council is currently preparing its budget for the coming financial year, 2017/18. Shortly, proposals for how to cut the budget in line with the cuts forced on the council by the Tory government will be out for consultation. As Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Read set out the challenge in an open letter published in the Rotherham Advertiser. This letter is reproduced below:

 

Since 2010, the council has had to make cuts and savings of £138 million. More than 1,500 jobs have been lost as a result. Each year has brought more bleak news and difficult decisions.

Deliberate choices made by the Tories in Westminster leave Rotherham – like our neighbours across South Yorkshire – dealing with cuts far bigger than those in most of the rest of the country. Figures from Newcastle Council suggest that between 2010 and 2015, our funding in Rotherham was cut by £174 per household. If we lived in Windsor, we’d have lost just £14 per household.

Over the next three years, the government plans to scrap the main grant for councils altogether. Today only about 45% of the council’s budget is raised from council tax, so as a result we’ll need to cut more than £40 million more, and hundreds more jobs will be a lost. It will be difficult, and at times painful.

In the years to come, we’ll be almost entirely dependent on council tax and business rate income, so we need to support the local economy and ensure that there are private sector jobs for local people. Without that, we won’t be able to continue to fund the public services that people depend on.

At the same time it’s worth noting that most of the council’s budget is spent on the most vulnerable: the elderly, those with learning difficulties and disabilities, and of course the most vulnerable children.

Since I became Leader of the council, we’ve prioritised investment in our Children’s Services in order to improve them – and we’ll need to do more of that.

But we’ve also tried to do more to protect the services that residents tell us are important, including street cleaning, and beginning to improve the state of our roads. On the other hand, we have cut allowances to councillors.

Now we have to make more choices in order to balance the books. The council will continue to shrink, delivering services differently to how its been in the past. We will use fewer buildings, be more efficient – and simply do less.

Over the next few months, we’ll set out detailed plans so you have the chance to comment on and challenge them. But we also want your views right from the start of this process. You can take part online at www.rotherham.gov.uk/budget.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Chris Read
Leader, Rotherham Council

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