More jobs go as council leader warns of ‘tough times’ to come

Rotherham Town Hall, Rotherham.'Flag raising ceremony - Armed Forces Day.'Picture: Coun Roger Stone.
Rotherham Town Hall, Rotherham.'Flag raising ceremony - Armed Forces Day.'Picture: Coun Roger Stone.

Rotherham Council is cutting another 60 jobs to help save £20 million in the coming financial year, but claims the budget is still a ‘fair deal’.

The authority, which has already lost 1,000 staff in the last two years, said ‘difficult decisions’ have had to be made.

And council leader Roger Stone warned that tough times are set to continue until 2018, as the budget was passed at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

“I wish I could report a stronger position in terms of the money being made available to us to improve the lives of Rotherham people but unfortunately I am unable to bring you any better news on that front today,” he said.

“Last year, we had to find savings of £20.4 million. Next year, we will have to find another £20.2 million.”

“We expect these year-on-year reductions to continue until at least 2018. In 2014/15 we already know the Government is planning to reduce our funding by a further 9.1 per cent.”

Coun Stone said that rather than closing services, the council had used ‘bright ideas and new ways’ of working to make savings.

But despite those bright ideas, £5.8 million is still being lost from frontline services as the council works with a £221 million budget.

Children’s and Young People’s Services are being cut by £1.776 million, which will see two top management posts go and other roles across the service ‘consolidated’.

A further £2.974 million is being cut from Neighbourhood and Adult Services, with savings coming from staff reductions, restructuring and working with other services.

For the third year running Council Tax has been frozen, with the rate for Band D property pegged at £1,230.03.

By freezing Council Tax the authority will qualify for the Government’s Council Tax Freeze Grant, worth around £938,000.

The council has also designed a Council Tax Reduction Scheme for people of working age who previously received Council Tax Benefit that minimises the impact on vulnerable people.

This means Rotherham will qualify for the Government’s Council Tax Reduction Transitional Grant of £468,000.

Despite the cuts, Coun Stone said the council would stuck to its priorities of safe guarding children, promoting new business in the town, supporting credit unions, and continuing capital investment in houses, schools, and roads accross the borough.

He also praised staff who had ‘embraced the change’ over the last two years.

“Despite the uncertainties they have continued to work extremely hard to deliver high quality services for our communities,” he said.

“These are tough times for us as a council, tough times for our staff, and tough times for the individuals and the families we serve.”

“Beyond 2014/15, the level of funding cuts is uncertain. What we do know, however, is that we will need to continue to listen to our communities to ensure our priorities are the same as theirs.”

Conservative group leader Coun John Gilding said that cuts were the fault of the previous Labour Government.

“I hope that we can make Rotherham a leaner and more efficient authority,” he added.