Doncaster mayor responds to questions on latest cuts budget

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 16-02-15 MC 6
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 16-02-15 MC 6

Residents are set to feel the pinch as council cuts deepen, with the equivalent of £358 being slashed for every man, woman and child in the borough.

As the need to cut £109 million from Doncaster Council’s budget enters its second year, 487 job losses and an annual council tax rise of 1.95 per cent could be on the way if the authority waves through the latest round of savings.

To balance the books by April 2017, council bosses will need to make cuts of £70.5million over the next two years, with the axe continuing to loom over services including adult social care, children’s services and a number of the local authority’s ‘assets’.

The £109 million equates to a reduction in council spending of £358 per head of population.

Budget documents due to go before cabinet reveal that the council tax rise in real terms would equate to an annual average increase to £936.17 for rate payers in Band A. This works out as an extra £14.05 per year, or 28p per week, before precepts for police, fire and parish councils are added.

For residents living in Band D properties, the increase will result in an average annual council tax bill of £1,390.67 or an extra £20.58 per year.

The rise comes at a time when Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney says inflation could turn negative this year.

The council tax rises will bring in an extra £3.3million for the council over the next two years.

Councils are legally obliged to seek a referendum with their electorate if a council tax rise of two per cent or more is introduced.

The council is also looking to shed 487 jobs over the next two years.

The budget document states that will be achieved by ‘initially looking to delete vacant posts, and then offer voluntary redundancy, with compulsory redundancy being the last resort’.

When the council outlined its three year budget in 2014, it stated around 1,200 jobs would be lost.

That has been reduced to 760 job losses, the final 487 of which will be made between now and April 2017.

The budget proposal come just weeks after the mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, announced around 600 full-time workers at the council will now be paid the ‘living wage’ of £7.95 an hour.

Mrs Jones said there are ‘no surprises’ in the budget.

She said: “I said I would come back to full council with further proposals of where savings could be made to balance the budget up to 2017.

“I am pleased that in doing this we have managed to minimise further impact on members of the public and front line services.

“It has been a very testing and arduous process but the good news is that we are now starting to see the benefits of our plans to modernise council services and create new jobs and economic growth.”

In terms of cuts to services, the council aims to cut a total of £1.9 million from adult social care before April 2017, which it says it will achieve through the changing of a number of contracts across mental health services for work supporting people and carers.

A further £1.2 million will be cut from the children’s services budget over the next two years, some of which will be found through reduction of agency staff and a ‘review of structures and case loads’.

Another £5 million will be found through a reduction in the number of assets, including buildings, as well as making council buildings becoming ‘multi-functional’.

The proposed budget cuts will come before the council next month.