Sheffield Green councillors today (7th March) proposed their amendment to the council’s budget.

Amendment to be moved by Councillor Douglas Johnson, seconded by Councillor Robert Murphy

That the recommendations of the Cabinet held on 14th February, 2018, as relates to the City Council’s Revenue Budget and Capital Programme 2018/19, be replaced by the following resolution:-

RESOLVED: That this Council:-

(1) continues to condemn the cuts to local authority funding, which is a political choice by central government, and applauds the efforts of politicians and campaigners calling for an alternative to this policy;

(2) notes that Sheffield’s citizens have suffered since 2010, through continuous cuts to council funding – and consequently to services to the public;

(3) believes that central government has utterly failed to address the growing and substantial crisis in the care of older and disabled people and that, even passing on extra costs through council tax increases, the sum raised is still wholly inadequate to meet the cost of social care;

(4) notes, however, that long-term outsourced contracts with big private businesses have not taken an equivalent share of the cuts;

(5) in particular, notes that the Streets Ahead contract contains ongoing rises in annual spending, that the spending on the Streets Ahead contract in 2018/19 has now reached £79 million, roughly double the investment in 2011, and the long-term costs of finance now stretch ahead into the future until 2057;

(6) therefore recognises that austerity is not going to go away and that Elected Members in Sheffield, however difficult the crisis we face, have a responsibility to do the best we can for the people of Sheffield, prioritising the available resources to protect communities and the most vulnerable and working towards a more equitable and resilient city;

(7) accordingly, thanks the officers of the Council and in other organisations, including the voluntary and private sector directly affected by the austerity programme, in the way they have responded to the increasing cuts and made sacrifices;

(8) recognises the number of people in serious hardship and therefore welcomes the proposal to raise the Council Tax hardship fund by a further £200,000 to protect more of the 30,000 poorest families in the city, which exact proposal was contained in the Green Councillors’ budget proposal in March 2016;

(9) recognises the particular difficulties faced by young people leaving care setting up their own homes for the first time and will therefore set aside funding so they can be exempted from council tax bills until the age of 25;

(10) recognises the importance to the community of small-scale spending at local level and will therefore not only reverse the planned cut to ‘ward pot’ budgets but will increase them for 2018/19;

(11) will support the voluntary sector by reversing the planned funding cuts for 2018/19 to advice centres, thus protecting jobs and helping people most in need;

(12) notes that the Council’s own equality impact assessment identifies that the Administration’s intended cuts to advice work and ward pot grants disproportionately affect BME groups, women and disabled people and could lead to the loss of up to 18 FTE jobs;

(13) recognises the ongoing value of the city’s library service and rewards the hard work of volunteers who have supported their local branch libraries by providing funding for a paid, professional librarian in every branch library;

(14) believes that the people of this city want a Council that listens to them, is accountable, and takes their genuinely-expressed concerns into account;

(15) therefore, will continue the Green Councillors’ proposal, first expressed in 2012, to open up Council meetings to public scrutiny by online web broadcasting;

(16) will cut political spin from the Town Hall and will remove the posts of Group Policy Officers from the Council payroll, requiring politicians to do their own research and press work;

(17) notes that Green Councillors first proposed a Living Wage in 2008 to address low pay and will now tackle the principle of income inequality head-on by reducing the pay of senior officers on salaries over £50,000 a year;

(18) will further reduce four posts in the HR function to protect frontline services;

(19) will support the city’s cultural offering by reversing the planned cuts to Sheffield’s museums and theatres;

(20) regrets the lost opportunity of jobs in the renewable energy industry when proposed by Green Councillors in 2014; but will promote energy efficiency schemes in maintained schools by use of £500,000 unallocated New Homes Bonus funding;

(21) will create further jobs by setting aside a further £500,000 unallocated New Homes Bonus funding to identify and survey brownfield sites for re-use for new housing and business, so as to minimise the impact of new building on the green belt or those brownfield sites that provide particular benefits to wildlife or the local community;

(22) will take steps to increase affordable housing in the city by funding a pilot project of a small number of energy-efficient “container homes”, such as those already being pioneered at Heeley City Farm;

(23) will create an additional officer post to bring empty homes back into use in order to tackle the blight and waste of empty houses, increase housing supply with far less energy consumption than new building and generate revenue through council tax and New Homes Bonus;

(24) will fund an additional post to help tenants and improve standards in the private rented housing sector;

(25) will earmark at least £250,000 of Local Transport Plan funding for cycle lane schemes to provide protection for cyclists, thereby improving the numbers of Sheffield citizens cycling to work and contributing towards improved physical and mental health;

(26) further, will ensure that all future Local Transport Plan spending is used only on sustainable modes of transport that do not have any adverse impact on air quality;

(27) welcomes the new investment in replacing obsolete air quality monitoring stations and will further invest in public-facing visual displays to ensure the public can see and monitor the measure of air pollution affecting them in real time;

(28) will invest in a small discretionary grant fund to encourage zero or low- emission taxi vehicles through the licensing system;

(29) will develop proposals to introduce a workplace parking scheme, to improve air quality and generate additional long-term revenue to invest in the city’s public transport;

(30) will reduce the price of residents’ parking permits to 2010 levels, by shifting the cost of parking in residential parking permit zones to non-residents, meaning that people living in some of the most congested and polluted areas of the city are not subsidising other transport services;

(31) will promote health, activity and fun by funding outdoor gym equipment in the city’s parks;

(32) will commemorate the very origins of a municipal authority for public health by providing the public with clean, fresh water through the provision of drinking fountains in the city centre and major parks, thereby reducing waste and litter from single-use disposable plastics;

(33) will further tackle the scourge of disposable plastics by employing an officer (6 months) to develop schemes that minimise the Council’s use of single-use plastics across all its services;

(34) will support the work of officers and businesses in the night-time economy by developing proposals around a night-time levy scheme to offer more policing and street-cleaning, in order to ensure high-value businesses make an appropriate contribution to social costs;

(35) will, in addition, fund an extra eight Police Community Safety Officers to make people feel safer;

(36) will recognise the importance, both culturally and economically, of the city’s heritage and will provide funding for a dedicated heritage officer;

(37) will regenerate a flagship city centre shopping parade by offering empty shopfronts on Pinstone Street and Charles Street to independent Sheffield businesses, rent-free on a temporary basis;

(38) recognises the hard work of Sheffield citizens who have highlighted the economic risks attached to fossil fuels and the need for Sheffield City Council to do business ethically; and welcomes the inclusion in its Treasury Management Strategy, of commitments not to hold any direct investments in fossil fuels or companies involved in tax evasion or grave misconduct;

(39) therefore requests the Executive Director, Resources to implement the City Council’s Revenue Budget and Capital Programme 2018/2019 in accordance with the details set out in the reports on the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme now submitted, but with the following amendments:-

Revenue Budget

Spending Reductions £’000 Spending proposals £’000
Remove Group Policy Officers (half year saving) 73 Exempt Young Care Leavers from Council Tax 30
remove 4 further posts in HR 189 Reverse cut and increase ward pot funding 41
Additional 20p on street parking charge 369 Reverse cuts to voluntary sector & advice work 50
use of NHB for one-off costs 115 Webcasting Council Meetings 21
Reverse cut to Museums & Theatres 53
Additional Empty Homes Officer to bring empty properties back into use 38
Additional post in Private Sector Housing 27
Establish discretionary fund for grants to encourage zero or low-emission taxi vehicles 5
Workplace Parking Levy Study 25
Reduce Parking Permit Fees to 2010 levels 298
Reduce Parking Permit Fees to 2010 levels 298
Revenue costs for outdoor gym 4
Drinking Fountains for City Centre – Maintenance 8
Single Use Plastic Avoidance Study 25
Late Night Levy Study 25
Heritage officer 44
Regenerate city centre shopping parade 40
Savings – subtotal 746 Spending – subtotal 734

The following savings schemes require the agreement of new contracts, or actions to be agreed with other bodies. Consequently the following investments are proposed conditionally on the successful implementation of these savings schemes.

Spending Reductions £’000 Spending proposals £’000
Reduce pay on employees paid over £150,000 by 20% (assume 6 month saving) 25 Eight extra PCSOs 264
Reduce pay on employees paid over £100,000 by 15% (assume 6 month saving) 73 Staff for branch libraries 322
Reduce pay on employees paid over £50,000 by 10% (assume 6 month saving) 476
Savings – subtotal 574 Spending proposals – subtotal 586
Revenue saving total 1,320 1,320

Capital Budget

Spending Proposals £’000 Financing of Proposals £’000
Energy efficiency for schools fund 500 Use of New Homes Bonus / Growth & Investment Fund to establish fund for energy efficiency schemes in schools 500
Establishment of fund to prepare brownfield sites for redevelopment 500 Use of New Homes Bonus / Growth & Investment Fund to establish fund to prepare brownfield sites for redevelopment 500
Fund to establish “container homes” pilot 250 reprioritise funding for acquiring new council homes 250
Protection of cycle lanes 250 Re-prioritise Local Transport Plan spending 250
Air Quality Monitoring Digital Displays 54 unallocated LTP funding 54
outdoor gym equipment in parks 40 Use of small amount of unallocated GIF/NHB 83
Webcasting Council Meetings – Equipment 19
Drinking Fountains for City Centre & parks 24
Spending Proposals total 1,637 Financing of Proposals total 1,637

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