Sheffield Green Party knows how challenging this will be, due to central government’s cuts. But we believe Sheffield people want strong local communities, supported by quality public transport, local shops and businesses, libraries and community care, as well as to protect the poorest families. Supporting those things would secure the kind of city most people want.
Green councillors will be making budget proposals to save money, but the cuts are so deep that something more needs to be done to protect vital local services.
Council tax only raises about 13% of the Council’s income, but at least it can be decided here in Sheffield, not London.
We know many households are on tight incomes. But Sheffield Council hasn’t increased council tax since the cuts began. We now have £20 million less to spend than if we had just increased council tax in line with inflation. Many other local councils plan to increase council tax to meet growing needs and offset the worst of the Coalition’s cuts.
That’s why this year the Green councillors will propose that Sheffield City Council offers its residents a council tax referendum. This would take place in May, at the same time as the Council and European elections, and would allow the people of Sheffield to decide whether or not to raise their council tax in 2014/15.
We will propose that the tax increase is used to pay for three things: to stop the library closures; to protect social care for the elderly and vulnerable adults; and to help protect the 30,000 council tax payers on the lowest incomes.
The Green Party believes major decisions on council spending should be made by the people affected. We want Sheffield people to have the chance to say whether they are willing to pay a bit more to save local communities, keep public services and look after those people most in need.
Recently, businesses in the Don Valley were balloted to decide if they wanted to pay extra business rates towards a publicly funded flood defence scheme. 82% of businesses voted in favour. We think council tax payers should be given a choice too.
We hope Labour and Lib Dem councillors agree that Sheffield people should be trusted to make this decision. Do you want to make your views known to your local councillors?