UPDATED: Greens propose council tax referendum on Sheffield budget decision day

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Sheffield’s Green councillors will today call for a referendum on raising council tax by almost three per cent as next year’s council budget is decided.

At 2pm city councillors will debate the budget for the next year, which proposes a council tax increase of 1.99 per cent - equivalent to £29 extra a year on a Band D property.

Cuts of £63m are also set to be agreed - including around 100 job losses, contract reviews, cuts to services and an increase in some charges paid by the public.

The Green party has today announced that it will be suggesting council tax increases by 2.95 per cent, which would trigger a public referendum.

Its alternative budget says the money would be used to increase money spent on adult social care, pay for ten extra PCSOs, double a council tax hardship fund and turn empty properties into homes, among other things.

Savings would be made by cutting the posts of group policy officers.

Coun Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Green party leader, said: “This a Budget which we believe can improve fairness and reduce inequality and hardship among the Sheffield people.

“Many in Sheffield have felt the full force of swingeing government cuts, and it should be a priority for the council to make sure that those worst affected are given all the assistance they need to restore their quality of life.

“Measures such as opening a Community Shop in Sheffield and protecting NHS services from being put out to tender are crucial in making sure we are doing everything we can as Councillors to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

In the weeks since the proposed council tax rise was announced, politicians have been embroiled in a row over the move as council tax has been frozen for four years previously using a Government grant.

Today Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg repeated his call for the council to take the grant instead.

His local Liberal Democrat leaders will also put forward an alternative budget this afternoon, which suggests reducing the number of trade union convenors and a pay review for the council’s highest paid staff instead of a council tax rise.

Mr Clegg said: “Today Sheffield Council have a choice.

“They can take money from hardworking people in Sheffield by hiking their council tax, or they can back our plan to freeze Council tax and put money in the pockets of people across the city.

“At a time when the Council have £39m in uncollected Council Tax and £125m in surplus assets, asking local people to pay even more money into their coffers is just plain wrong.”

Labour leaders have said they have lost 50 per cent of the council’s funding grant and can no longer afford to continue freezing council tax.

They say the increase will raise extra money for services provided to residents.

Today the party is expected to speak about how northern councils have been hit harder than southern councils by Government austerity.

More details on the services savings outlined in the budget are below:

Savings

Savings from services will total £37.5m next year – and very few areas can be protected wholly from the axe.

Adult social care alone is facing £9.2m of cuts next year, which means ‘significant reductions in spending over a short period of time’.

In children and young people, providing more ‘local’ and better fostering places will save £400,000. Respite and short breaks for needy families will be reviewed and some services like adoption are to become Yorkshire-wide to save £350,000.

Youth services will be cut by £840,000 by reducing support to those only deemed ‘most in need’.

Subsidies for Sheffield Theatres, Sheffield Museums and SIV will be sliced by £500,000.

The way events are funded will also change – and the council wants others to help promote Sheffield, such as businesses.

Management of parks and green spaces will be switched to a ‘more natural and lower cost land management’ to save £100,000 a year.

In public health, sexual health and young people’s substance misuse services will have a reduction in cash.

Charges for pest control, allotments and bereavement services will go up – although there will be no increase in parking.

More school crossing patrols will be funded by schools instead of the council.

Community well-being and community health champions programmes will be reduced.

One of last year’s changes, relinquishing control of 15 libraries, will also save £800,000 next year.

Adult social care alone is facing £9.2m of cuts next year