Sheffield budget: Opposition call for cuts to council jobs and more money for the environment

The Liberal Democrats and Green Party have put forward their proposals for the upcoming budget as the ruling Labour group finalise plans.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 10:36 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 10:38 am
British coins stack on pound sterling
British coins stack on pound sterling

Sheffield City Council are set to discuss their budget plans for next year at a full council meeting today.

Ahead of this, opposition parties have been working on suggestions for savings and spending aside from what the ruling Labour group have already decided.

Sheffield City Council needs to make £30 million worth of savings – this takes the total of savings and cuts over the last nine years of austerity to £460m.

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There could be up to 133 redundancies but it is hoped the final figure will be lower and some will be staff leaving naturally.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats,  said: "Sometimes we all push in the same direction, the right direction.

"My challenge to the Labour council is: if there are good ideas you like then vote for them and get over the silly tribal politics. If you’re here to do the right thing for the people of Sheffield then choose good ideas whether they come from you or not.

"We want to devolve more power to the people of Sheffield and let residents make decisions on their areas."

As part of savings they propose deleting three senior manager posts, reducing the communications team and removing the leader’s policy officer post –which they say will save a total of £299,000. A similar suggestion was also put forwards by the Green Party to cut Group Policy Officers who are paid to carry out research and press work for the council but, they also want to create 26 new council jobs. 

Opposition also called to scrap taxpayers subsidising trade unions – last year some union staff got a pay rise, in some cases double their previous salary, to level pay. At the time the trade unions said they would also make reductions to offset the pressure on the budget – this has not yet been done. Liberal Democrats say stopping funding this would save £325,000.

Both want to see more spending on the environment. The Green Party want to put £2.5 million into green construction jobs on renewable energy, insulation and housing and the Liberal Democrats want to put more into recycling.

They also want to see more funding given to communities.

The Liberal Democrats suggest giving £35,000 to reinstate snow wardens, £100,000 to projects including Unity Gym and De Hood, £150,000 for local sports clubs and £50,000 towards a free bus pass for young carers and 100 percent tax relief for foster carers.

The Green Party want to give more to cycle routes, heritage and natural spaces, water fountains, safer neighbourhoods, libraries, advice centres,  mental health, webcasting meetings, action on poor housing and transport.

Coun Douglas Johnson, Green Party representative for City ward, said: "I am proud to be backing a radical, yet practical budget. The Greens have lots of ideas to build on what Sheffield is good at and to make residents’ lives that bit better.

"What’s more, in addition to the range of new jobs and services, our budget proposal will generate an additional million pounds for social care in each future year.”

The budget for the upcoming year will be discussed at a full council meeting on Wednesday, March 6 at 2pm.