Exclusive: Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones on £26m cuts budget for 2017/18

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones and Chief Financial Officer Steve Mawson
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones and Chief Financial Officer Steve Mawson

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones has answered our questions on the budget being proposed for the 2017/18 financial year, when the council will attempt to make £26m of savings, increase council tax by 3.9 per cent and lose 90 posts.

Mayor Ros Jones (RJ) was also joined by Chief Financial Officer for Doncaster Council, Steve Mawson (SM) to explain this year's budget and how it will impact on residents.

Doncaster Free Press (DFP): Do you think it's fair that Doncaster residents are having to bear the brunt of austerity measures with a council tax rise of 1.9 per cent?

RJ: Do I think it's fair that Doncaster residents are having to bear the brunt of what our central government are not doing, and that's actually picking up the national issue of ensuring that adult services are properly funded, same with the NHS, no I don't.

"And I think it's the Government that needs to get their act together and deliver a national answer to what we're all picking up which is the growing population. But what we're doing is being pro-active and looking to bring in new adult services which are about intervention which will over the long-term be best for residents.

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COUNCIL BUDGET 2017/18: £86 to be cut for every man, woman and child in Doncaster

"We're helping people to live in their own homes for longer, which is what people want. Doncaster's council tax is the ninth lowest in the country and therefore we are holding it down for as long as possible because we do know how difficult it is. 60 per cent of the properties in Doncaster are Band A and the most that council tax will bring in is £2million and we've got massive more increases on the increased demand on adult social care.

DFP: How will the council save £800,000 from the budget for Adult Social Care?

RJ: "The National Living Wage is going to cost us about £2million. It's great that people are getting paid more but it's going to put a greater demand on what we're having to pay out.

"What we're doing is early intervention and therefore assisting people at the very start so they don't become intensive and require to go into residential accommodation. Where people do require residential homes they will be supplied. It's a whole new concept of how we're delivering adult social care.

"It's modernising the service, making sure people out there are getting what they want, which as you and I know is generally to stop at home for as long as possible, and early intervention is how we achieve that."

DFP: How will early intervention help the council to save £800,000?

SM: "To keep someone in a residential home would cost £400 a week. To keep someone in their own home you could do that for about £150 a week. So keeping someone in their own homes helps all of those funds, and as Ros said, it's the better thing for the person.

DFP: The Council are proposing to cut £1.742million from the Educational Services Grant. Can you explain how that will work?

SM: "This is another area where the Government have made a cut. So the council has to look at the way it works with schools. Schools are funded pretty well in terms of the national context.

"So we have to look at the some of the services we provide to schools. If they want some of those services they will have to pay for some of those services.

"But in general, we also need to make sure we're delivering modern activities.

"We've gone through a range of services like school improvement, and have gone through those kind of areas and said what do we actually need to provide and what can we provide that schools will buy back from us."

READER QUESTION: How much does the directly-elected mayor with all of her staff cost the tax-payer?

RJ: "I'll tell you what the elected mayor costs, I cost less than half of the allowed salary for the mayor which is £30,000. I think the allowance is £62,000 or £63,000."

DFP: And what about your own personal staff?

RJ "The staff would be here if you didn't have an elected mayor. The staff would be here under the leader model, so it's nothing extra."