Jo Miller: Doncaster Council’s top boss issues warning calling Government’s lack of finance planning ‘absolutely terrifying’

Doncaster Council’s top boss has issued a stark warning over future finances and called the Government’s lack of monetary planning for local authorities as ‘absolutely terrifying’.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 16:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 16:57 pm
Doncaster Council chief executive Jo Miller

Speaking at a recent Cabinet meeting, chief executive Jo Miller praised the work of staff for ‘holding their nerve’ through Government cuts but warned the council would be ‘naive fools’ for thinking they could carry at the same rate. 

The top boss was responding to the quarter three finance report which gave financial breakdowns across all departments across the council. 

She added that Doncaster, along with neighbours Barnsley and Liverpool were the three most affected areas for budgetary cuts. 

Mayor Ros Jones also laid into Government officials and called on them to ‘step up’ in providing information on what they can spend past 2020. 

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The mayor is set to formally propose her budget to a meeting of the full council on March 4 which includes a 4.99 per cent council tax rise along with a £21 million short fall.

Addressing Cabinet members and senior officers, Ms Miller said: “If you think about the level of finance the authority now has compared to previous years and you look at how this authority and others in the north have been treated compared to others – my own view it’s mendacious. 

“There is a phenomenal performance story, not just for everybody politically in the workforce but with out partners and volunteers.

“I want to pay enormous tribute to everybody for being determined and holding their nerve and to crack on despite the extremely challenging situation. 

“It is though getting harder and we would be naive fools that we can carry on this way. 

“It’s absolutely terrifying there is no plan for sustainability of local government finances post 2020. It’s all well and good having individual funding streams that we can bid for but it’s no way to run public services.

“I want to pay tribute for what’s been done so far but sound a warning that carrying on like this is precarious.”

Mayor Ros Jones said the council was in a ‘precarious state’ of not knowing about what they could spend past 2020 and on Brexit uncertainty. 

“We all know the funding streams are wrong – passing costs onto the most vulnerable is wrong and I use the adult social care levy as an example,” she said. 

“It’s a national issue that should be funded appropriately and it’s no way to run a country to give us the information (on what we can spend) so late in the day.

“Given we do not know what we have (to spend) in 2021 is unbelievable to say the least. Government need to step up and give the information out.”