Sheffield Labour Council's 17/18 budget, approved by Labour Councillors on Friday, sets a new upper borrowing limit for a the Council of a staggering £1.69billion. This is an incredible £7,000 for every ‘rateable dwelling’ in Sheffield (the number of houses and flats eligible to pay Council Tax).
The Liberal Democrats have expressed concern over this large amount of borrowing and the potential risks involved, given the financial choices of previous Labour Administrations. For example the Council remains saddled with the debt from the financially disastrous 1991 World Student Games. The games racked up a total debt of £658m which will continue to be paid off by Sheffield tax payers at a rate of £25 million a year until 2024.
Councillor Martin Smith, Shadow Cabinet member for Business & the Economy said
“It’s really important that the Council drives forward with the Retail Quarter Project and city centre regeneration if we are going to build up business rate base to secure future revenue for vital council services.
“However, Labour must be open and honest about the potential risk involved in borrowing to finance these projects and do everything they can to make sure our children are not left paying back for their poor financial decisions like they have ended up paying for the World Student Games.”
"The Council also needs to do more to boost economic growth across all parts of the City and not just rely on big projects in the City Centre".