Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield petitions Downing Street over 'unfair funding'

Julie Dore
Image caption Council leader Julie Dore is taking the petition to Downing Street

A 10,000-signature petition opposing "unfair" government funding for the city of Sheffield is to be handed in to Downing Street.

The petition is backed by Julie Dore, the Labour leader of the council, and the Bishop of Sheffield, Stephen Croft.

Those behind the petition said areas of southern England were not as badly affected by central government cuts.

The government said the city had spending power per household "above the national average".

James Vincent, BBC Sheffield political reporter, said the petition claimed Sheffield City Council's funding was being cut by £139 per person but in Richmond Upon Thames it was being cut by just £11.99 per capita.

In October the council warned hundreds of jobs could be lost, as it sought to save £50m from its 2013-2014 budget - £10m more than initially expected.

Ms Dore said: "What you have to remember is the people who signed this petition and the people that have led on this petition are not just local politicians; it's the voluntary, faith and community organisations and all the people that depend on their services.

"I think the government is duty-bound to listen to those people other than necessarily listening to politicians which proves not to have worked."

'Sitting on reserves'

Bishop Croft said: "[We need] to reflect what is reflected all over the country - that austerity measures are biting now in serious ways.

"There does seem to be a strong case that local government funding cuts are falling unevenly across the country."

In a statement Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Every bit of the public sector needs to help pay off the deficit left by the last administration.

"This settlement is a fair one, Sheffield has a spending power per household of £2,200 which is above the national average and far more than many of its southern counterparts. For example, £400 more than Wokingham.

"Sheffield has also been awarded a City Deal worth over £44m, £18.6m from the Growing Places fund, £4.5m from the New Homes Bonus scheme and [it is] an Enterprise Zone."

He said Sheffield Council was also losing out on £26m a year in uncollected council tax and "sitting on" £43m of reserves.

"The council should be looking at ways to deliver savings through improved procurement, joint working and better property management," he added.

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