At a recent Finance Committee meeting Labour councillors called on the Council to freeze recruitment to vacant posts with a salary over £100k.
This is in response to the urgent need to get on top of the city’s finances due to inflationary pressures and government funding cuts.
However, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors vote against this proposal.
The quarterly financial review highlights the extraordinary difficulties the council is in following a decade of government cuts which has seen the council’s spending power reduced by nearly £250m (30% of its overall budget). Making matters considerably worse for the city’s finances is the on-going cost of living crisis and inflationary pressures.
The council is currently hung – with no one political party having control – meaning that unlike in previous years it will not just be Labour councillors who will have to make difficult budget cuts.
Councillor Bryan Lodge, Co-Chair of the Finance sub-committee, put forward a recommendation at the meeting:
“Faced with the current situation, we have a number of staff that are now acting in interim posts and what I’d like to propose and puts the committees as an amendment is that we implement a freeze on recruitment for positions over £100,000 while we concentrate focus on the budget”.
“We need to respond to comments and concerns from members of the public about where we are spending money on”
Councillor Lodge argued that Labour councillors were not proposing that senior posts go unfiled – but that the council has staff already who can take on these additional responsibilities.
It was also argued that it would be irresponsible to be engaging in an expensive recruitment process when the focus needs to be on the budget, rather than distractions around recruitment.
Liberal Democrats councillors argued against the change saying that they couldn’t make a decision without knowing the full implications.
However, Labour councillor Cllr Mike Chaplin argued back saying “I find it an interesting line of reasoning from the Lib Dem, who have been telling anyone who’ll listen that the Council has a dire financial position but they’ve not even considered this and to say it’s all too hasty I think is stretching it frankly”.
Eventually a vote was taken, with Liberal Democrat and Green Councillors voting against Labour’s proposal.
At the end of the meeting Cllr Lodge commented:
“It’s a hung council – with no party in overall control – making it harder for Labour to take the strong action needed to get on top of the finances.
“We’ve already seen Lib Dem and Green councillors misleading the public with their constant references to the Council being a Labour run administration – they need to be honest with the public and recognise their own responsibilities.
“They aren’t facing up to the difficult decision. Labour wants to ensure value of money for taxpayers, and I think most Sheffielders would agree that at this current time we shouldn’t be hiring new people on salaries of £100K until we have stabilised the finances”