Edinburgh Labour's approach to the setting of the city's budget over recent years, for example, has demonstrated our clear intention to put Edinburgh first, rather than party politics, and to bring decision-making into the open, rather than concoct deals behind closed doors.
We are all sick and tired (and this criticism applies to previous Labour administrations of which some of us were part) of the way that the council's annual budget round is managed. Every year, we get ourselves into the ludicrous situation of each party group not knowing what the other is proposing until we walk into the Council Chamber at 10am on the local budget day. It just makes no sense to continue like this.
For the past five years Labour has bucked this trend, and is the only party in the city that has consistently published budget proposals at least a week before the actual budget-setting meeting. We've also made a conscious effort to consult on our recent budgets, and adjust our plans according to the feedback we've received.
We are committed to extending this open process if we have the opportunity to be part of running the council after 3rd May.
It's all part of our co-operative approach which aims to smash open the system of local government in Edinburgh and devolve more power to local people.
Our most recent alternative budget proposals were published in February, a week in advance of budget day. By contrast the final content of the SNP/Lib Dem budget was only handed out in the budget meeting 50 minutes before the vote on the budget was taken. That's no way to build trust, and it's no way to run a city.
Here are those proposals again in full. We can make them real with your support.
The City of Edinburgh Council
9th February 2012
REVENUE BUDGET 2012- 2013
CAPITAL INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2012- 2016
HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT AND CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2012- 2013
LABOUR GROUP AMENDMENT
1. AVAILABLE RESOURCES
Council agrees that the protection of front line services remains an important priority, and acknowledges that every effort should be made to rationalise back-office functions.
Council further agrees that economic regeneration is vital to ensuring Edinburgh’s prosperity and future prospects; and recognises the Council’s duty to lead on both issues.
Therefore Council notes:
- The current budget position as contained within today’s report/s.
- The imbalance in revenue resources over the next 3 years due to the allocation of funding from the Scottish Government.
- That future years will be extremely challenging based on current allocations / forecasts.
2. SERVICE PRIORITIES
Council now agrees:
- That the introduction of the Living Wage of £7.20 per hour for Council workers is necessary to ensure social and economic justice and will also support the local economy.
- To plan for the payment of the Living Wage to be a condition of future contracts with external suppliers.
- That in future the highest paid Council employee shall earn no more than 12 times the salary of the lowest paid Council worker.
- To establish a “PSC / Service Improvement Fund (Spend to Save)” of £11million to develop Council services and achieve efficiency savings; whilst noting that some £4.25million of abortive expenditure, plus extensive internal costs, has been sunk on the abandoned privatisation alternative.
- To establish a “Co-operative Development Unit” (CDU) with an initial fund of £250,000. This unit will be resourced by the redeployment of senior staff from elements of service restructuring; noting that this restructuring has been called for in the previous 4 Labour Group Budget Amendments.
- The CDU will work with Council departments, communities and partner organisations to develop sustainable co-operative models which will deliver excellent public services in a cost effective and cooperative manner. (i.e. childcare, renewable energy production, housing)
- That £3.4million funding in 2012/13 will go towards the ‘Change Funds for Health and Social Care and Early Years’, to support the wider alignment of budgets on a preventative basis, with provision of £6.8million by 2014/15.
- To allocate an additional £1.534m towards various Health and Social Care initiatives.
- To reinstate £826,000 of Voluntary Sector funding to ensure that all Voluntary Sector Grants are maintained at current levels, throughout 2012/13.
- Funding of £740,000 to Edinburgh Leisure for specified works and services.
- To reinstate £550,000 to the Libraries Service, which would secure existing Sunday opening hours.
- To allocate £2.5million towards Employability Services in the city, ensuring that every school-leaver has a positive employment/education destination, and agrees to review the effectiveness and deliverability of these services in view of their importance to jobs and economic success.
- To call for an urgent report, within 2-cycles, on all potential solutions to provide long-term stability for the funding of these Employability Services/Programmes.
- That, recognising the need for ongoing schools maintenance, an additional ‘School Fabric Repairs’ fund of £4.326million is established.
- The allocation of £700k towards energy and carbon reduction measures
- That an additional investment fund of £3million is allocated to Neighbourhood Partnerships (more than trebling their existing discretionary spend) and those local communities are thus fully consulted on the best use of these one-off resources for infrastructure or community improvements, and also local co-operative developments, such as:
- roads and footways improvements (Right First Time [RFT])
- expansion of ‘Real Time Information’ for local bus services
- cycling infrastructure improvements
- local Play facilities
- local Sports Pavilions
- local Community Centre facilities
3. PROPOSED SAVINGS
Council further agrees to the following areas of significant saving:
a. Restructuring of Senior Management (Heads of Service) Posts
b. Reduction in the Q.I.O. Teams
c. Removal of various Council Publications
d. Absenteeism management
4. CONTINUED INVESTMENT
Council notes this budget allows the following areas of continued investment:
a. Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools
b. Health and Social Care Services for the Old and Vulnerable
c. Voluntary Sector, and third-party, grant support
d. Sport and Physical Activity services
e. Neighbourhood Services and local infrastructure
5. FUTURE BUDGET DEVELOPMENT
Council notes that the budget process is an internal exercise which culminates in the setting of the Council's budget in mid-February each year. Spending plans are set for at least 12 months and sometimes up to 3 years.
Council agrees to establish a new Council Budget Committee to improve the scrutiny, and effectiveness, of the budget process. The proposed committee would be made up of Councillors and external groups representing wider civic society in the city. Such a dedicated budget committee could radically improve scrutiny and transparency of the budget setting process.
6. POLITICAL CHOICE
Council thus agrees to develop the concept of a ‘Co-operative Council’, positively promoting local decision-making, and rejecting the now, failed privatisation alternative.
Council thus acknowledges that this budget has focused on proposed areas of targeted savings to enable both continued investment in essential front line public service priorities, and the achievement of longer-term sustainable savings.
7. ADDITIONAL APPROVALS
Council notes the following:
- Report no. CEC/86/11-12/PS and CEC/87/11-12/PS by the Director of Corporate Governance, setting out the overall resources available for revenue expenditure.
- Report nos. CEC/92/11-12/CG and CEC/89/11-12/CG by the Director of Corporate Governance setting out the proposals for funding services from third parties in 2012/13.
- Report no. CEC/88/11-12/PS and CEC/90/11-12/CG by the Director of Corporate Governance setting out the overall position on capital resources for the period 2012 - 2016.
- That the latest Audit Scotland annual report stated, in regard to Equal Pay provision, that 'the Council has been overly prudent in estimating the level of provision required at 31 March 2011'.
- A further report will be submitted to seek approval of revised charges for Council services, the outcomes of which are contained in Annex 1 to this amendment.
Council approves the following:
- The revenue budget set out in the reports, subject to the adjustments set out in Annex 1 to this amendment.
- A review of all Council Reserves with any un-required funds being allocated towards Statutory Repairs.
- The grant recommendations set out in report CEC/89/11-12/CG together with additional investment set out in Annex 1.
- The 2012 - 2016 capital budget as set out in reports CEC/88/11-12/PS and CEC/90/11-12/CG by the Director of Corporate Governance.
- The Council Tax and Rating Resolutions as set out in Annex 2 to this amendment.
- The recommendations contained in report CEC/91/11-12/SfC by the Director of Services for Communities to increase rents by 7.9% in line with the agreed rent strategy in the HRA approved business plan.
Signature of Proposer ……………………………………………………
Signature of Seconder ……………………………………………………