Further police cuts may be ordered in Chancellor George Osborne’s Emergency Budget next week, crime commissioner Alan Billings has warned.
The force is in the process of saving about £17 million this year and is planning for a similar level of cuts in 2016-17, followed by savings of around £12m per year up until 2020.
But Dr Billings told a meeting of the police and crime panel it is possible savings targets could be accelerated by the Government.
He said: “I’m very clear that the challenges facing the police force are enormous. The period of austerity is going to continue.
“Our other anxiety is about the measures in July with the Emergency Budget. They may pull forward the period with which the Chancellor wants to bring down the structural deficit.
“If that happens, the police and other public sector workers may be faced with even harder targets to meet.”
He said South Yorkshire Police is in a particularly challenging position because of ‘legacy issues’, such as the Hillsborough inquests and child sexual exploitation scandal which has resulted in the National Crime Agency being brought in to investigate historic abuse cases in Rotherham.
He said: “South Yorkshire uniquely has some of these very, very difficult historic legacy issues that are going to be with us for a very, very long time.”
Finance officer Allan Rainford said around 85 per cent of the force’s outgoings relate to employee costs.
In April, Dr Billings warned the force was facing a ‘tipping point’ where it would no longer be able to deal with ongoing cuts.
Over the last eight years 600 police officer jobs have been axed in South Yorkshire.
And by 2020 police chiefs estimate there will only be 2,000 officers left – 1,300 fewer than in 2007.