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Agenda item

Notice of Motion Regarding "Stark Budget Challenge" - Given By Councillor Cate McDonald and To Be Seconded By Councillor Mike Chaplin

That this Council:-

 

(a)      notes that the Authority is facing an overspend of nearly £44million in 2021/22, caused by the continuing additional spending on Council services needed to respond to the pandemic, such as support for families and older people in need, and the sudden end of Covid-related funding from central Government;

 

(b)      notes that the single biggest financial issue facing councils throughout the country is addressing the social care crisis, and this pressure is particularly felt in metropolitan areas;

 

(c)      notes that despite the recent announcement from the Government to increase taxes to, in the words of the Prime Minister, ‘fix the crisis in social care’, it is far from clear how the Government’s plan will deliver on this;

 

(d)      notes, in addition, that despite the promise of additional health and social care investment, it is not expected that this money will be allocated locally, or that councils will be sufficiently compensated for the spiralling costs they have faced in the last eighteen months;

 

(e)      notes that for over a decade (since 2010/11), in setting its budget, this Council has had to absorb Government funding cuts, and meet increased costs from pressures such as inflation and demand for services, particularly in social care, amounting to £475 million, which has meant a 31% real terms decrease in the Council’s spending power;

 

(f)       notes that for all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer austere cuts above the national average, and believes it is the hard-working people and the most at need who continue to shoulder the impact of this shortfall in funding, with government cutting public services to the bone;

 

(g)      believes that since 2011, everything possible has been done to challenge government to provide a better funding settlement for Sheffield, but successive governments have failed to deliver, and have appeared ideologically driven to cutting public services and pushing the burden of responsibility onto cash-strapped local authorities;

 

(h)      believes that no Members in the Co-operative Executive entered politics to make austere cuts to public services, but contends the same cannot be said with certainty for members of the opposition parties, as in 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat national coalition embarked on savage spending cuts to Sheffield - which were consistently defended by both of these parties locally, despite the damage it was doing, and continues to, for Sheffield and its citizens;

 

(i)       believes that enough is enough, and the Government has to take responsibility and give a fair financial settlement to local authorities, and that, for all their posturing, their levelling-up agenda is empty rhetoric which spectacularly fails to deliver what is required;

 

(j)       contends that due to the Government’s woeful financial settlement for Sheffield, the Council must enact schemes such as Voluntary Early Retirement and Voluntary Severance and make tough decisions across all council portfolios, including in core services, in order to ensure the Council remains financially viable;

 

(k)      notes that there is very little detail from Government about how local authorities will be supported going forward, and believes the Council is in a precarious position and that, as such, this Co-operative Executive’s approach is the right one - in taking decisive and considered leadership to do everything we can to reduce the budgetary overspend, to prepare for the year ahead, and limit the impact on the services people rely on;

 

(l)       believes that changes and compromises will have to be made but, as has been done for the last decade, this Council will do everything it can to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, and to continue delivering on our goal of creating a prosperous, fairer Sheffield - tackling inequalities and the climate emergency, strengthening the local economy with better jobs and opportunities, and with improved quality of life for all;

 

(m)     believes that despite the awful financial challenges over the last decade, successive Administrations have worked tirelessly to ensure that Sheffield remains a great place to live, work and play, with a strong and growing local economy, with a city council that represents value for taxpayers, and that the Co-operative Executive remains ambitious for the future of this city; and

 

(n)      calls upon the Government to use the opportunity of the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review to provide sustainable and sufficient long-term funding for councils based on:-

 

(i)       fairness: so that citizens in the less wealthy council areas are not unfairly penalised;

 

(ii)       incentives for local growth and innovation; and

 

(iii)      promoting local democracy.

 

 

Minutes:

5.1

It was moved by Councillor Cate McDonald, and seconded by Councillor Mike Chaplin, that this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)      notes that the Authority is facing an overspend of nearly £44million in 2021/22, caused by the continuing additional spending on Council services needed to respond to the pandemic, such as support for families and older people in need, and the sudden end of Covid-related funding from central Government;

 

 

 

(b)      notes that the single biggest financial issue facing councils throughout the country is addressing the social care crisis, and this pressure is particularly felt in metropolitan areas;

 

 

 

(c)      notes that despite the recent announcement from the Government to increase taxes to, in the words of the Prime Minister, ‘fix the crisis in social care’, it is far from clear how the Government’s plan will deliver on this;

 

 

 

(d)      notes, in addition, that despite the promise of additional health and social care investment, it is not expected that this money will be allocated locally, or that councils will be sufficiently compensated for the spiralling costs they have faced in the last eighteen months;

 

 

 

(e)      notes that for over a decade (since 2010/11), in setting its budget, this Council has had to absorb Government funding cuts, and meet increased costs from pressures such as inflation and demand for services, particularly in social care, amounting to £475 million, which has meant a 31% real terms decrease in the Council’s spending power;

 

 

 

(f)       notes that for all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer austere cuts above the national average, and believes it is the hard-working people and the most at need who continue to shoulder the impact of this shortfall in funding, with government cutting public services to the bone;

 

 

 

(g)      believes that since 2011, everything possible has been done to challenge government to provide a better funding settlement for Sheffield, but successive governments have failed to deliver, and have appeared ideologically driven to cutting public services and pushing the burden of responsibility onto cash-strapped local authorities;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that no Members in the Co-operative Executive entered politics to make austere cuts to public services, but contends the same cannot be said with certainty for members of the opposition parties, as in 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat national coalition embarked on savage spending cuts to Sheffield - which were consistently defended by both of these parties locally, despite the damage it was doing, and continues to, for Sheffield and its citizens;

 

 

 

(i)       believes that enough is enough, and the Government has to take responsibility and give a fair financial settlement to local authorities, and that, for all their posturing, their levelling-up agenda is empty rhetoric which spectacularly fails to deliver what is required;

 

 

 

(j)       contends that due to the Government’s woeful financial settlement for Sheffield, the Council must enact schemes such as Voluntary Early Retirement and Voluntary Severance and make tough decisions across all council portfolios, including in core services, in order to ensure the Council remains financially viable;

 

 

 

(k)      notes that there is very little detail from Government about how local authorities will be supported going forward, and believes the Council is in a precarious position and that, as such, this Co-operative Executive’s approach is the right one - in taking decisive and considered leadership to do everything we can to reduce the budgetary overspend, to prepare for the year ahead, and limit the impact on the services people rely on;

 

 

 

(l)       believes that changes and compromises will have to be made but, as has been done for the last decade, this Council will do everything it can to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, and to continue delivering on our goal of creating a prosperous, fairer Sheffield - tackling inequalities and the climate emergency, strengthening the local economy with better jobs and opportunities, and with improved quality of life for all;

 

 

 

(m)     believes that despite the awful financial challenges over the last decade, successive Administrations have worked tirelessly to ensure that Sheffield remains a great place to live, work and play, with a strong and growing local economy, with a city council that represents value for taxpayers, and that the Co-operative Executive remains ambitious for the future of this city; and

 

 

 

(n)      calls upon the Government to use the opportunity of the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review to provide sustainable and sufficient long-term funding for councils based on:-

 

 

 

(i)       fairness: so that citizens in the less wealthy council areas are not unfairly penalised;

 

 

 

(ii)       incentives for local growth and innovation; and

 

 

 

(iii)      promoting local democracy.

 

 

5.2

Whereupon, it was moved by Councillor Mike Levery, and seconded by Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (e) to (m) and the addition of new paragraphs (e) to (m) as follows:-

 

 

 

(e)      notes that for all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer funding cuts above the national average, and believes it is the hard-working people and the most at need who continue to shoulder the impact of this shortfall in funding, with government cutting public services to the bone;

 

 

 

(f)       particularly condemns the current Government’s approach to funding the NHS and Adult Social Care, and believes that a properly thought-out new long term funding settlement for social care is desperately needed to sustain vital frontline services, particularly for places like Sheffield which has a relatively low council tax base but a high level of need;

 

 

 

(g)      believes that the Liberal Democrat proposal of raising income tax by a penny in the pound will make progress in meeting this need for a long-term funding settlement and greatly relieve the pressure on adult social care and the NHS;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that Sheffield City Council’s financial situation is aggravated by the potential impact of Brexit, and on the capacity of both the local and national economy to generate the resources that our public services badly need;

 

 

 

(i)       notes the October 2020 Medium Term Financial Analysis predicted a funding gap of £72M between 2021/22 to 2024/25, meaning that 60% of this gap is currently predicted in this financial year;

 

 

 

(j)       notes the 14% increase in this year’s Adult Social Care budget raised from the 3% precept increase in Council Tax;

 

 

 

(k)      notes the efficiency savings of £14.9M brought forward from 2020/21 approved in the 2021/22 budget through services effectiveness, cost reduction and staff savings;

 

 

 

(l)       believes that although the Council is facing financially difficult times, the current Administration has still had choices about where to spend our money, and have often made the wrong choices over the past ten years, for example:-

 

 

 

(i)       protecting taxpayer subsidies for Trade Unions whilst slashing funding to local communities;

 

 

 

(ii)       continuing to spend vast amounts on Council spin doctors whilst cutting front line services;

 

 

 

(iii)      spending millions on costly consultants whilst allowing important road safety schemes to be delayed;

 

 

 

(iv)      adopting a services insourcing policy which could lead to budget increases; and

 

 

 

(iv)      increasing a youth services budget prior to insourcing 12 months ago and still having no plans on how to spend it; and

 

 

 

(m)     believes that a formal half year review is required urgently to clearly identify the budget overspend areas which lead to a predicted overspend of £44M, an increase of 12% on the approved budget, with a recovery plan to minimise the impact on reserves, and a clear indication of which earmarked reserves are affected.

 

 

5.3

It was then moved by Councillor Alexi Dimond, and seconded by Councillor Paul Turpin, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the addition of new paragraphs (o) to (v) as follows:-

 

 

 

(o)      rejects austerity and notes that the Green Party is the only major political party to consistently oppose austerity;

 

 

 

(p)      recognises that the rise in national insurance is unfair and will not resolve the crisis in Health and Social Care, and believes that this Council would favour progressive taxes such as wealth, land and financial transaction taxes;

 

 

 

(q)      believes that long-term, outsourced contracts with big private businesses have not taken an equivalent share of the cuts to council services over the last ten years; and notes that long-term costs of finance stretch into Sheffield’s future until 2057;

 

 

 

(r)       notes that years of austerity have resulted in repeated recruitment freezes and a large number of redundancies;

 

 

 

(s)      believes that this has crushed the opportunities of a generation of young people who might otherwise have been taken on as apprentices or in entry-level jobs;

 

 

 

(t)       notes that this has also led to the loss of years’ worth of collective experience from the Council’s workforce;

 

 

 

(u)      believes that many members of the workforce may benefit from a voluntary reduction in their working hours and that this may allow new opportunities for young recruits to learn additional skills by working alongside them; that there are benefits of intergenerational skills transfers and more fulfilling working environments for both younger and older workers; and

 

 

 

(v)      therefore requests officers in every portfolio to promote opportunities for reductions in hours for workers, and flexible retirement, in order to encourage new job opportunities for young people and to maintain their pride in jobs well done.

 

 

5.4

After contributions from three other Members, and following a right of reply from Councillor Cate McDonald, the amendment moved by Councillor Mike Levery was put to the vote and was negatived.

 

 

5.4.1

(NOTE: Councillor Lewis Chinchen voted for paragraphs (i) to (m) and voted against paragraphs (e) to (h) of the amendment moved by Councillor Mike Levery, and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

5.5

The amendment moved by Councillor Alexi Dimond was then put to the vote and was carried, except for paragraphs (o) and (q) which were lost.

 

 

5.6

The original Motion, as amended, was then put as a Substantive Motion in the following form and, on being put to the vote, the Substantive Motion was carried, except for paragraphs (h), (j) & (m) which were negatived.

 

 

 

That this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)      notes that the Authority is facing an overspend of nearly £44million in 2021/22, caused by the continuing additional spending on Council services needed to respond to the pandemic, such as support for families and older people in need, and the sudden end of Covid-related funding from central Government;

 

 

 

(b)      notes that the single biggest financial issue facing councils throughout the country is addressing the social care crisis, and this pressure is particularly felt in metropolitan areas;

 

 

 

(c)      notes that despite the recent announcement from the Government to increase taxes to, in the words of the Prime Minister, ‘fix the crisis in social care’, it is far from clear how the Government’s plan will deliver on this;

 

 

 

(d)      notes, in addition, that despite the promise of additional health and social care investment, it is not expected that this money will be allocated locally, or that councils will be sufficiently compensated for the spiralling costs they have faced in the last eighteen months;

 

 

 

(e)      notes that for over a decade (since 2010/11), in setting its budget, this Council has had to absorb Government funding cuts, and meet increased costs from pressures such as inflation and demand for services, particularly in social care, amounting to £475 million, which has meant a 31% real terms decrease in the Council’s spending power;

 

 

 

(f)       notes that for all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer austere cuts above the national average, and believes it is the hard-working people and the most at need who continue to shoulder the impact of this shortfall in funding, with government cutting public services to the bone;

 

 

 

(g)      believes that since 2011, everything possible has been done to challenge government to provide a better funding settlement for Sheffield, but successive governments have failed to deliver, and have appeared ideologically driven to cutting public services and pushing the burden of responsibility onto cash-strapped local authorities;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that no Members in the Co-operative Executive entered politics to make austere cuts to public services, but contends the same cannot be said with certainty for members of the opposition parties, as in 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat national coalition embarked on savage spending cuts to Sheffield - which were consistently defended by both of these parties locally, despite the damage it was doing, and continues to, for Sheffield and its citizens;

 

 

 

(i)       believes that enough is enough, and the Government has to take responsibility and give a fair financial settlement to local authorities, and that, for all their posturing, their levelling-up agenda is empty rhetoric which spectacularly fails to deliver what is required;

 

 

 

(j)       contends that due to the Government’s woeful financial settlement for Sheffield, the Council must enact schemes such as Voluntary Early Retirement and Voluntary Severance and make tough decisions across all council portfolios, including in core services, in order to ensure the Council remains financially viable;

 

 

 

(k)      notes that there is very little detail from Government about how local authorities will be supported going forward, and believes the Council is in a precarious position and that, as such, this Co-operative Executive’s approach is the right one - in taking decisive and considered leadership to do everything we can to reduce the budgetary overspend, to prepare for the year ahead, and limit the impact on the services people rely on;

 

 

 

(l)       believes that changes and compromises will have to be made but, as has been done for the last decade, this Council will do everything it can to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, and to continue delivering on our goal of creating a prosperous, fairer Sheffield - tackling inequalities and the climate emergency, strengthening the local economy with better jobs and opportunities, and with improved quality of life for all;

 

 

 

(m)     believes that despite the awful financial challenges over the last decade, successive Administrations have worked tirelessly to ensure that Sheffield remains a great place to live, work and play, with a strong and growing local economy, with a city council that represents value for taxpayers, and that the Co-operative Executive remains ambitious for the future of this city; and

 

 

 

(n)      calls upon the Government to use the opportunity of the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review to provide sustainable and sufficient long-term funding for councils based on:-

 

 

 

(i)       fairness: so that citizens in the less wealthy council areas are not unfairly penalised;

 

 

 

(ii)       incentives for local growth and innovation; and

 

 

 

(iii)      promoting local democracy.

 

 

 

(o)      recognises that the rise in national insurance is unfair and will not resolve the crisis in Health and Social Care, and believes that this Council would favour progressive taxes such as wealth, land and financial transaction taxes;

 

 

 

(p)      notes that years of austerity have resulted in repeated recruitment freezes and a large number of redundancies;

 

 

 

(q)      believes that this has crushed the opportunities of a generation of young people who might otherwise have been taken on as apprentices or in entry-level jobs;

 

 

 

(r)       notes that this has also led to the loss of years’ worth of collective experience from the Council’s workforce;

 

 

 

(s)      believes that many members of the workforce may benefit from a voluntary reduction in their working hours and that this may allow new opportunities for young recruits to learn additional skills by working alongside them; that there are benefits of intergenerational skills transfers and more fulfilling working environments for both younger and older workers; and

 

 

 

(t)       therefore requests officers in every portfolio to promote opportunities for reductions in hours for workers, and flexible retirement, in order to encourage new job opportunities for young people and to maintain their pride in jobs well done.

 

 

5.6.1

(NOTE: 1. Councillors Richard Shaw, Sophie Thornton, Ann Woolhouse, Tim Huggan, Mohammed Mahroof, Joe Otten, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Vic Bowden, Alan Woodcock, Roger Davison, Barbara Masters, Shaffaq Mohammed, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Sue Auckland, Steve Ayris, Kevin Oxley, Penny Baker, Vickie Priestley, Richard Williams, Alan Hooper, Mike Levery and Ann Whitaker voted for paragraphs (a) to (d) and against paragraphs (e) to (t) of the Substantive Motion, and asked for this to be recorded.

 

2. Councillors Angela Argenzio, Brian Holmshaw, Kaltum Rivers, Douglas Johnson, Ruth Mersereau, Martin Phipps, Alexi Dimond, Paul Turpin, Peter Garbutt, Maroof Raouf and Alison Teal voted for paragraphs (a) to (g), (i), (k), (l) and (n) to (t) of the Substantive Motion, and voted against paragraphs (h), (j) and (m) of the Substantive Motion, and asked for this to be recorded.

 

3. Councillor Lewis Chinchen voted for paragraphs (b) and (n) of the Substantive Motion, voted against paragraphs (a), (c), (f) to (k) and (m) of the Substantive Motion, and abstained from voting on paragraphs (d), (e), (l) and (o) to (t) of the Substantive Motion, and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

5.7

Therefore, the resolution which was passed by the Council was as follows:-

 

 

 

RESOLVED:  That this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)      notes that the Authority is facing an overspend of nearly £44million in 2021/22, caused by the continuing additional spending on Council services needed to respond to the pandemic, such as support for families and older people in need, and the sudden end of Covid-related funding from central Government;

 

 

 

(b)      notes that the single biggest financial issue facing councils throughout the country is addressing the social care crisis, and this pressure is particularly felt in metropolitan areas;

 

 

 

(c)      notes that despite the recent announcement from the Government to increase taxes to, in the words of the Prime Minister, ‘fix the crisis in social care’, it is far from clear how the Government’s plan will deliver on this;

 

 

 

(d)      notes, in addition, that despite the promise of additional health and social care investment, it is not expected that this money will be allocated locally, or that councils will be sufficiently compensated for the spiralling costs they have faced in the last eighteen months;

 

 

 

(e)      notes that for over a decade (since 2010/11), in setting its budget, this Council has had to absorb Government funding cuts, and meet increased costs from pressures such as inflation and demand for services, particularly in social care, amounting to £475 million, which has meant a 31% real terms decrease in the Council’s spending power;

 

 

 

(f)       notes that for all the Government’s talk of ‘levelling up’, Sheffield continues to suffer austere cuts above the national average, and believes it is the hard-working people and the most at need who continue to shoulder the impact of this shortfall in funding, with government cutting public services to the bone;

 

 

 

(g)      believes that since 2011, everything possible has been done to challenge government to provide a better funding settlement for Sheffield, but successive governments have failed to deliver, and have appeared ideologically driven to cutting public services and pushing the burden of responsibility onto cash-strapped local authorities;

 

 

 

(h)      believes that enough is enough, and the Government has to take responsibility and give a fair financial settlement to local authorities, and that, for all their posturing, their levelling-up agenda is empty rhetoric which spectacularly fails to deliver what is required;

 

 

 

(i)       notes that there is very little detail from Government about how local authorities will be supported going forward, and believes the Council is in a precarious position and that, as such, this Co-operative Executive’s approach is the right one - in taking decisive and considered leadership to do everything we can to reduce the budgetary overspend, to prepare for the year ahead, and limit the impact on the services people rely on;

 

 

 

(j)       believes that changes and compromises will have to be made but, as has been done for the last decade, this Council will do everything it can to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, and to continue delivering on our goal of creating a prosperous, fairer Sheffield - tackling inequalities and the climate emergency, strengthening the local economy with better jobs and opportunities, and with improved quality of life for all;

 

 

 

(k)      calls upon the Government to use the opportunity of the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review to provide sustainable and sufficient long-term funding for councils based on:-

 

 

 

(i)       fairness: so that citizens in the less wealthy council areas are not unfairly penalised;

 

 

 

(ii)       incentives for local growth and innovation; and

 

 

 

(iii)      promoting local democracy;

 

 

 

(l)       recognises that the rise in national insurance is unfair and will not resolve the crisis in Health and Social Care, and believes that this Council would favour progressive taxes such as wealth, land and financial transaction taxes;

 

 

 

(m)     notes that years of austerity have resulted in repeated recruitment freezes and a large number of redundancies;

 

 

 

(n)      believes that this has crushed the opportunities of a generation of young people who might otherwise have been taken on as apprentices or in entry-level jobs;

 

 

 

(o)      notes that this has also led to the loss of years’ worth of collective experience from the Council’s workforce;

 

 

 

(p)      believes that many members of the workforce may benefit from a voluntary reduction in their working hours and that this may allow new opportunities for young recruits to learn additional skills by working alongside them; that there are benefits of intergenerational skills transfers and more fulfilling working environments for both younger and older workers; and

 

 

 

(q)      therefore requests officers in every portfolio to promote opportunities for reductions in hours for workers, and flexible retirement, in order to encourage new job opportunities for young people and to maintain their pride in jobs well done.