Story: Mick Ibbotson
In times of austerity, it is always the poorest who suffer the greatest. Vital services are being reduced, downsized or simply curtailed. Burngreave is not exempt – the City Council have supported the area in the past but have cut this year’s Discretionary Budget for the Community Assembly by almost 30%. The £78,446 allocated to Burngreave ward seems a lot, but it’s £30,000 less than last year’s allocation.
So what will it buy the area?
Councillors and officers propose to spend £22,600 on buying some vital support for the young and the old via Activity Sheffield – this will pay for 30 hours per week provision across the entire area. It’s not a lot at all and nowhere near the amount of provision the area needs.
They have also allocated £10,000 for ‘quick wins’ (small schemes which make an immediate impact), £15,000 on NEAT teams (environmental clean-ups) and floral displays, £11,000 on Community Cohesion projects (getting people together) and small amounts on Speed Indication devices – helping to make the streets safer for road users.
This leaves around £12,300 unallocated – it’s not going to stretch very far.
However, Burngreave also gets some money from the Community First scheme – this is from central Government for the most deprived wards in the country. The money is not allocated to the Council and new grant-making panels have been set up to spend it. The plan is that the community decides, via a panel of local people, where this funding is spent and on what. They are welcome to be partners but any implied notion that it is extra council funding should be corrected – it is not.
The Council have tried to keep a handle on Community First money, by trying to divert it via community assembly structures, with different levels of success. They have also made the controversial plan to cut the discretionary budget by the same amount as the Community First money, so that Burngreave is no better off overall.
You can find out who is on your panel, by checking out the website www.burngreavecommunityfirst.com as well as information about time-scales, awards and the application process. As things develop, it seems this is the only local form of financial support available in the ward, so it’s worth keeping an eye on it.