Liberal Democrat councillors will table an alternative proposal at Labour controlled Sheffield City Council’s budget meeting today.
Amongst other things, Lib Dems are proposing to save weekly bin collections, free citywide garden waste collections and dementia care homes under threat of closure.
Unlike Labour councillors Lib Dems would have the Council apply for a share of the £250m Government fund to help maintain weekly bin collections. However, the Lib Dem budget includes full funding for weekly bin collections regardless of the outcome of the bid.
A proposal to reduce the pay of the top 25% of council earners would help save dozens of low paid jobs, including care workers and bin men.
Under the Lib Dem plan there would be a 5% reduction in salary for Town Hall managers earning more than £39,000 a year and a smaller 2.5% reduction for council staff on a salary between £30,000 and £39,000. This would deliver £1.2m a year to help continue vital front line services Labour councillors had planned to cut.
Lib Dems have also tabled plans to reduce senior manager numbers and full time trade union posts to deliver an extra £500,000 annual saving.
Other Lib Dem investments include an extra 100 apprenticeship posts for local young people, the reversal of Labour’s planned 100% increase in parking permit fees and work to reverse some of Labour’s cuts to park maintenance.
Other proposals to save money include £175,000 less spending on agency staff and training, £70,000 from the reduction in use of blackberries and £44,000 from reductions in councillors allowances.
Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Sheffield City Council, said:
“Our alternative budget has been signed off by independent council officers as financially sound. Now Labour councillors have no excuse for going ahead with their unpopular plans on waste collections, dementia care centres and resident parking charges. The Liberal Democrats have provided a better and fairer alternative.
“By cutting back on senior managers, reducing unnecessary IT costs and other measures we can add back investment in the vital areas that matter to local people. For example, it cannot be fair that taxpayers spend £400,000 a year on full time trade union officials at the same time as seeing dementia care centres put under threat of closure.”
Cllr Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet member for Finance, said:
“We believe small pay reductions for higher paid staff in order to save care workers and bin men is fair. Even the Leader of the Labour Party supports that principle, so I hope that Sheffield’s Labour councillors will agree.
“Other Labour councillors in the region have proposed similar reductions in staff pay. However, our proposal is different and more progressive as anyone earning less than £30,000 a year, which is 75% of council staff, would not be affected.
“Liberal Democrats also intend to provide the investment to double the local apprenticeship scheme, providing 100 more opportunities for young people over and above what Labour had planned.”
On the question of weekly bin collections Cllr Clement-Jones added:
“Whilst we would apply for a share of the £250m on offer to help keep weekly bins, our proposals don’t rely on it. Our intention would be to re-invest that money from the Government later in the financial year after we learn the results of the bid. We haven’t budgeted for it, therefore the expected income would be a welcome extra boost and weekly bin collections would continue regardless.”