Meeting planned in Sheffield tonight to propose alternative council budget

Left-wing groups in Sheffield are holding a meeting tonight to propose an alternative council budget.

Sheffield City Council says it will need to cut £40 million this year in order to balance the budget.

But Alistair Tice, a member of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and the organiser of tonight’s meeting, said the Labour council should do more to protect services.

“Labour councils do have a choice – they don’t have to implement the Tory cuts,” he said.

The ‘no cuts budget’, as Mr Tice calls it, proposes that the council use borrowing powers and its own reserve funds to avoid cuts to public services.

Mr Tice said the extra money should be used to build more houses and bring services such as waste management back into council control.

“If they had the political will, they could do it,” he said.

Speakers at the meeting will include representatives of the GMB and the Fire Brigades Union, as well as Chris Rust of the Sheffield Trees Action Group.

“The council seem to have made things worse for the local finances while trying to blame citizens for their own cockups,” said Mr Rust on Facebook.

Mr Tice said the recent tree protests had energised political groups in Sheffield.

One of the purposes of the meeting would be to bring together various groups campaigning against the cuts, he said.

Councillor Ben Curran, the cabinet member for finance and resources, said last month that the council had had to make £350 million in spending cuts as a result of government reductions to council funding since 2010.

As the graph shows, the Revenue Support Grant from central government fell by 43% in the last two years and will fall further this year.

“We want to continue finding new ways to deliver the services that people care about and take care of people who need us the most,” said Cllr Curran.

Cllr Curran has said that a scheme to discount council tax for people on low incomes will continue despite the cuts.

But Mr Tice said that the council should stop collecting council tax from people on benefits.

The meeting is at 7pm, at the Central United Reformed Church on Norfolk Street.