Protecting the most vulnerable – Rotherham Council agrees 2017 / 18 budget

Published Wednesday, 8th March 2017
budget challenge
2017/18 budget

Rotherham Council has today agreed its 2017/18 budget – approving proposals to meet a further funding shortfall of £24m, on top of £138m worth of savings which have already been made since 2010.

Protecting the most vulnerable children, while maintaining the services everyone relies on – like road repairs and street cleansing – underpins the authority’s budget for the coming year, which was agreed by the council today (Wednesday 8 March).

Investment in children’s services has been prioritised, with an additional £10m committed to continuing to improve child safeguarding services.

Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, said: “Because most of what the council spends is funded by government grant, the unprecedented and ongoing reductions in this government funding, plus the rising cost of providing services, continue to mean that difficult decisions have to be taken.

“The council is clear that we will direct our resources where they are needed most, and over the last two years we have been listening hard to residents about where our priorities should be and what needs to change.

“It’s right that in Rotherham, as we move beyond the tragedy of the past towards a brighter future, we commit an additional £10m towards continuing to improve child safeguarding.

“We will recruit more permanent social workers, and better equip them for the challenges that they face.  We will recruit more foster carers, and we will support more families to keep children out of care.”

Changes to Council Tax mean that residents will see a 3% rise under the Government’s Adult Social Care precept on their bill – introduced to help local authorities meet the rising cost and demand for adult care services. This will raise an additional £2.7m towards the expected £62m cost of these services next year.

Combined with a 1.99% increase in basic Council Tax, this overall 4.99% rise in the bill will mean a weekly increase of 85p for most of Rotherham’s households (54% of properties are in Band A).

Cllr Read added: “Any Council Tax increase is regrettable, but the reality is that we need to meet the rising cost of delivering care to Rotherham’s ageing population and the government has left us – like nearly every other council in the country – with no choice but to secure the funding in this way.”

The budget also sets out a continued commitment to invest in the borough’s roads – something which local people highlighted as a priority as part of the council’s extensive ‘Views from Rotherham’ consultation.

“We know too that residents place a high value on clean, safe streets – so our budget protects street cleansing and grounds maintenance in our communities,” said Cllr Read.

“The first £5m capital investment in our 2020 Roads programme has already seen an additional 150 roads across the borough resurfaced, and this budget meets our commitment to deliver a further £10m over the next three years.”

Today’s budget has been set against the seventh year of reductions in government grant. Since 2010 Rotherham Council has already made £138m worth of savings – and reduced its workforce by 1,700 jobs.

Reductions in government funding will continue in future years and a further budget gap of £42m is estimated in the following two years to 2019 / 20.

Cllr Read added: “Like all councils, the reality is we cannot afford to do everything we have in the past. We will scale back where we can, or work differently alongside other agencies, to help us protect key services as far as possible.”