Labour councillors budget amendment for Sheffield included proposals for £1.4million into a Neighbourhood Investment fund overseen by Local Area Committees, to support community organisations become sustainable into the future.
In total, Labours’ budget amendment would have put £2.5m into local Neighbourhoods – a clear signal of Labours commitment to devolving power into local communities and Neighbourhoods.
This opportunity to make a positive difference has been lost due to Liberal Democrat and Green councillors failing to back these plans.
However, Labour councillors managed to salvage some funding for local communities with a final proposal, led by Council Leader Terry Fox, to put £700k into the Local Area Committee (£25k going to each ward across the city) and a further £400k specifically directed to Sheffield’s poorest communities, and administered locally, to help residents through the cost-of-living crisis.
This proposal received unanimous support.
Council Leader Terry Fox:
“I’m pleased that once again the council has set a balanced budget – and I thank all councillors for their work in this. No party has overall control and the committees have been chaired by councillors from all parties.
“I think the financial challenge has only just dawned on the other parties to be honest – which Labour councillors have had to deal with for years. For over a decade Sheffield Labour cllrs have been prioritising the most vulnerable and tackling inequalities and we have never failed to set a balanced budget.
“This is despite the fact the annual grant the council receives from government is now around £300m less than in 2010, and a staggering £3.3billion has been lost, in real terms, over the same period. This is around £13,000 per household.
“But Labour remain ambitious for the city. This is why we had an amendment proposing additional funding to support Sheffielders through the cost-of-living crisis, prioritise prevention and early intervention services and focus on healthy living.
“We want to see extra investment for creating safe and cohesive neighbourhoods and deliver more sustainable, connected communities for the here and now, and longer-term.
“It’s a big disappointment that other councillors didn’t back our additional plans for the city’s budget. But at least we have once again set a balanced budget.
“And I am delighted that all councillors did support final proposals for an additional £1.1 million for local neighbourhoods via the local area committees – including £400K specifically earmarked to our poorest neighbourhoods.
“But this is not the end of our plans. If Labour secures a majority next year we will enact all of plans which were today defeated. Our resolve for Sheffield communities will never be diminished”
Below is the fully costed Labour amendment, which Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green councillors voted down:
Neighbourhood Investment Fund (£1.4 million)
Building sustainability for community organisations. Two aspects to this:-
- One-off small pot fund (£200K)
- One-off investment fund (£1.2m)
A one-off small pot fund (£200K) – linked to ward pots to help smaller community organisations with small funding requests.
Criteria to place a strong emphasis on Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and targeted at seldom heard communities.
A one-off investment fund (£1.2m) – to help medium-sized community centres/organisations, often based in Council owned/leased premises, become sustainable long-term –
- Eligible organisations will be those who deliver valuable services and benefits for Sheffield communities but may struggle to raise the investment needed to keep buildings in a good state of repair.
- This is about delivering sustainability with funding linked to business plans which would help organisations generate extra income. Funding would also be utilised to support organisations to develop business plans, funding strategies and assist with bid-writing – to help draw down external funding.
- There’s a crucial role within this for the Local Area Committees, working together to represent communities who live and work across the city, in providing oversight and accountability for the delivery.
- This will complement funds allocated for similar purposes under the Shared Prosperity Fund, if approved by the Government, allowing SCC to work more deeply and with more medium-sized organisations.
Feasibility study for bus services across the city (£50K)
We believe our public transport system in Sheffield is broken; a legacy of failed privatisation and national underinvestment, and that our communities are suffering as a result.
Labour has a plan to bring public transport back under public control – nationally, regionally and locally. We’ve begun the work to make this happen – bringing the tram into public control and public ownership, accelerating the bus franchising assessment, and introducing the first general fare caps since privatisation – but fixing public transport will take time.
The Council will carry out feasibility studies – in coordination with the Mayoral Combined Authority as transport authority – to see what more could be achieved in the short and long-term in Sheffield, and how we can replace or supplement vital services cut by private operators, including:-
- The Number 10 – a key circular route that took people to the Hallamshire Hospital.
- The Number 52A – which has cut Wisewood off from Hillsborough.
- The Number 32 bus – connecting communities across North East and the Northern General Hospital.
- Supertram link bus (SL1 & SL1A) that affects the whole Upper Don Corridor.
As part of this funding, we will also explore the feasibility of extending the council-run Sheffield Connect Bus (‘Clipper’) to Abbeydale Road and Ecclesall Road.
Local Food Access Plan (£101K)
Building on the work delivered via last year’s successful budget amendments to provide extra support to help develop a food access plan, including increasing food sustainability and supporting luncheon clubs.
The Plan has significantly helped Sheffielders during the cost-of-living crisis, and additional funding would be an expedient way of targeting further support and straightforward to implement.
Crucially, new funding would develop further the infrastructure for the collaborative work that is already happening. This is to help make food support more sustainable and increase resilience activity – such as social eating etc.
People Keeping Well (£300K)
‘People Keeping Well’ is community-based prevention activity that can help to prevent and delay people needing to access health and social care services. It is one of Sheffield’s approaches to Social Prescribing.
It is doing terrific work in our communities. We want it to go further still with additional investment to add to the £1.5 million already being delivered as part of the Council’s budget.
This would mitigate difficulties faced by organisations who deliver the contract but who cannot claim full cost recovery, meaning several smaller organisations run these important activities at a loss.
PKW is already established and funding would be an expedient way of not only targeting support during the cost of living crisis but support residents to lead healthy lives’.
Bike Library (£150K)
Cycling should be for everyone, but there is a huge discrepancy between cycling usage between richer and less well-off neighbourhoods. £150K should be provided to support our network of community buildings provide a Bike Library.
The initial trial would focus on the city’s four less well-off wards. This would also work as a Kickstarter for donations as well to the Bike Library, working with all agencies – such as police, charities and education institutions.
Feasibility study looking at expanding the District Heating Networks (£100K)
Study into how we keep the excess energy from the district heating network, mine water and ground source heat, and explore options around energy storage facility.
Develop plans to expand the network run heating into other communities, beginning with communities of high IMD.
Work would also explore how the network can link in with the Biomass plants and expand further on the city’s Hydro power.
Local Area Committees – Community enforcement and cohesion funding (£400K)
To support the multi-agency working and professional information gathering within neighbourhoods in supporting community cohesion.
To provide additional community safety support/sustainable neighbourhood officers, with earmarked and targeted support for areas of IMD.
Funding would also help areas to establish their own Neighbourhood Action Groups should they wish to.
Funding would also be used to provide one off year funding to develop and establish Housing Advisory Panels.
£700K for Local Area Committees (£25K per local ward) –
NOTE THIS PROPOAL WAS ACCEPTED
We are committed to local area committees and further devolving power away from Town Hall into neighbourhoods.
Local Area Committees are about much more than spending alone – they are about giving a greater voice to communities and rooting the delivery of services at a more local level.
The Council’s approved Housing Revenue Account will root housing services at a more local level, but we need to go further still.
Going forward, LACs need to play a fundamental role in education and developing skills.
Transport plays a fundamental role in neighbourhood safety and connectivity, and going forward the Local Area Committees need devolved powers to oversee traffic schemes in their own areas.
Alongside radical service redesign, additional one-off spending amounting to £25,000 per ward, overseen by ward councillors and spent in line with ward priorities, and delivered through the Local Area Committees process.