Council tax rise to pay Sheffield’s £75m pandemic bill

Written by Charlie Ridler

Covid-19 expenses such as personal protective equipment, free school meals and business grants have cost Sheffield £75m, according to a report by Sheffield City Council.

Spending plans set out last Wednesday included a 1.99 per cent rise in council tax to help pay for the pandemic, in addition to a £4.2m investment to give care workers a pay rise, 3,100 new council houses and a new 6,000 square metre park in the city centre.

Deputy leader Terry Fox said the council welcomed support from the government, which has allowed them to produce a balanced budget without using reserves or making unplanned cuts.

He said: “The last 12 months have been some of the most challenging in Britain’s recent peacetime history.”

“Against this backdrop the council has had to maintain its critical services for the citizens of Sheffield.”

However, there is concern that a rise in council tax puts a significant financial burden on those least able to afford it.

One resident, who lives in a Band B property, said: “It’s been tough on everyone so it’s difficult to decide who should pay. Something is going to have to give but it’s already so expensive.”

This sentiment was echoed by the Liberal Democrats, who proposed 100 per cent council tax relief for foster carers.

Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Beauchief and Greenhill Ward, said: “We want to help the people who are helping the most vulnerable in this city.”

“There’s considerable demand for adult social care both at a local level and nationally, therefore actually here it should be funded from government,” continued opposition leader, Shaffaq Mohammed.

“Councils across the country, like ours, are left with little choice but to raise council tax and often that hits the most vulnerable.”

The Green Party responded by commending both council and opposition budgets, but suggested the council tax hardship fund should be raised by £200,000 to £2m.

Coun Douglas Johnson, City Ward, said: “We don’t really have a problem with people copying our homework. It’s nice to see those ideas that were in Green budget amendments a few years ago popping up in the others.”

Local elections will take place on Thursday May 6, 2021. You can register to vote via www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Written by Charlie Ridler

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