Council Budget : The Labour group's alternative savings
11 February 2013
Labour offered the following as alternative savings and would have used this to protect the front line services.
Under the budget headings of Education, Social Work & Supporting People, our alternative proposals totalled £1.544m detailed as follows:-
· £1.335m - The complete windfall from Police and Fire reserves
· £10k - Deletion of second Civic Car & Running Costs
· 152k - From the proposed 2013/14 spend of £608k Private Contractor Ash Disposal
· £47k - From Corporate Services Division - Other Supplies and Services
In conversation with three of the city's most senior Council Officers, I was advised General Fund Balances were at a seriously low level and they could not give support to using even part of the £1.335m windfall Dundee City will recover from the reserves of the former Tayside Police and Fire & Rescue Services.
They also advised that part of this balance will be used to meet the severance payments required in line with the Administration’s Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme.
The Labour Group thinks this money would be better spent overturning the SNP Administration’s front line service cuts.
This £1.335m takes the General Fund Balance back to £4.75m.
Officers suggested that they would like to see balances closer to £6m, therefore I have reluctantly had to accept their professional opinion agreeing not to take this fund.
However, I do consider this reflects very poorly on this SNP Administration and its budget management - getting our city in a position were General Fund Balances are reported at an all time low.
Given this position as reported by Council Officers, can the SNP continue with a Council Tax freeze without it being fully funded by the Scottish Government?
The SNP Scottish Goverment announced its budget just the other day offering no additional support to local Government.
Whilst here in Dundee the SNP Administration again proposes to cut vital front line services that support people in need along with taking more teachers from our classrooms.
It again confirms that an SNP Administration means uncaring and ruthless policies that will add misery to the lives of those most in need.
Imposing a 5%, across the board reduction in social work and supporting people budgets is just a lazy and callous attempt to balance the books.
The proposal to cut cutting mileage from 45p to 25p for casual mileage users, we consider will lead to considerable inefficiencies in travel time by people using public transport or walking.
Therefore based on the information we have been provided by the Administration, we are reluctant to support what could be considered a break-away from Nationally Agreed Terms and Conditions of Employment by the SNP.
The Civic car is another area where we have been unable to reach agreement.
The public and the Council’s own workforce will have to make up their own minds - the Administration purchased a larger vehicle so more of them can be chauffeur driven at any one time.
I am also advised the Administration Councillors have taken training to self drive the electric vehicles - looks like our employees could be out of pocket but not the SNP Councillor.
The SNP Administration proposes to increase charges in excess of 5%, way over the current rate of inflation.
We understand the largest increase will be in planning fees seeing them increase by 20%.
The Labour Group consider that this increase will bring no additional income.
This large increase will discourage home improvement and likely lead to a situations where people carry out work without any due regard for Planning Legislation as they try to avoid the "stealth tax" this increased fee imposes.
Dundee City Council had £600k in the 2012/13 budget for "Private Contractor Ash Disposal "and are making provision for £608k in the 2013/14 budget despite the fact that DERL has been out of commission from May 2012.
Whilst it is disappointing that the Labour Group have been unable to convince Officers of a saving larger that £152k moving forward, we believe the public need an answer from the Administration - What has this money been used for from May 2012?
The Labour Group remains committed to supporting those in most need.
Although it is disappointing that we will be unable to protect as many front line services as we would have liked.
We are offering a way forward.
The SNP Administration could rule our proposals competent
The final decision is theirs.
We have offered a way forward to help the poor and vulnerable.
I don’t care who gets the political credit.
What is important to me is helping those who need the most help.
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