July motions

The following motions were passed at the July 2020 Leeds TUC delegate meeting

Motion on Leeds City Council budget crisis to Leeds TUC

Leeds TUC notes

  1. The decade of austerity facing local government from successive Tory-Liberal and Tory governments between 2010-20 has hit councils across the country hard, including £266m in core funding according to Leeds City Council (cumulatively around £1.7bn), which has seen a reduction of staffing by 3,200 full-time equivalents.
  2. Leeds City Council has announced over £100m in lost revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and £93.4m in additional spending on PPE and other measures to deal with the pandemic. With only £44m of emergency funding being received or expected by the council so far, this poses a series shortfall in income, with the possibility of the council Chief Financial Officer issuing a Section 144 notice that the council cannot meet its financial obligations, which would trigger a full council meeting to discuss the implications within 21 days.
  3. 8 out of 10 tier 1 local authorities across the country could face potential bankruptcy according to the Centre for Progressive Policy thinktank.
  4. In May Leeds City council wrote to the government calling for the following additional emergency measures
    a. underwrite all of the shortfall in Business Rates resulting from COVID-19 to bring the Council back to its level of baseline funding;
    b. compensate the Council for any shortfall against budgeted assumptions with regard to the level of Council Tax collected as a result of COVID-19;
    c. fund 100% of the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) scheme to protect authorities
    against loss of council tax income due to an increase in claimants;
    d. write off Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) debt held by local authorities or, failing this, reduce the interest rates for PWLB debt to the cost to Government. This would save the Council £9m in 2020/21;
    e. underwrite any variation in the level of income receivable from fees and charges that have been impacted by COVID-19. This would require a contribution of £33.3m in 2020/21.
    f. additional funding of £59.9m to bring the council’s budget back into balance for 2020/21.
  5. An emergency budget is likely to be discussed by the council in Summer 2020 if additional support is not received by the council.
  6. That in discussions on the budget that have taken place have included speculation that the council may cut all non-statutory spending, including ending funding for libraries, museums and art galleries.
  7. Leeds Unison has reported that they have had formal notification from the council to consult on redundancy and have pledged to “vigorously resist any attempts to make members redundant”, telling members to “prepare to fight for your jobs”.
  8. This position is likely to worsen in future years with a projection as of June 2020 of £178.8m funding gap in the provisional 2021/22 budget.

Leeds TUC believes

  1. That workers should not pay the cost of the Covid-19 crisis and the any shortfall facing local authorities should be made up from central government funding
  2. That further cuts to Leeds City Council jobs and services will have devastating impact on the city and trade unionists, both for workers in the council and as service users, and such cuts must be opposed.
  3. Given the common financial crisis affecting a majority of council, there is a big potential for co-ordinated campaigning by local authorities, trade unions and community groups on this issue.
  4. That through its anti-austerity initiatives Leeds TUC has played a crucial role in bringing together trade unions and community campaign groups – including the Leeds Against the Cuts campaign and the current anti-austerity sub committee. This has included successfully supporting campaigns including the DEAL Parents campaign against cutting school transport provision for 16-18 SEND students.

Leeds TUC resolves

  1. To demand the government returns the funding it has withdrawn from the city, in particular the annual £266m in lost core funding from the government and cumulatively £1.7bn.
  2. To call upon Leeds City Council and the city’s elected councillors to reject any proposals from senior officers of cuts to jobs, services, pay and conditions in the council – and to launch a campaign in the city around the demands they have placed on the government
  3. To call upon Leeds City Council Labour group to convene a conference with other affected council Labour groups to discuss a strategy to defend jobs, services, pay and conditions.
  4. To support the Cancel Local Authority Debt campaign supported by a number of local authority leaders and Richard Burgon MP
  5. To support any initiatives from the local authority trade unions to resist cuts to jobs and services and build support throughout the trade union movement and amongst community groups for such actions
  6. To initiate (in conjunction with local authority unions) a lobby of an emergency budget full council meeting and contact community campaign groups to support this
  7. To initiate a campaign for the return of funding taken from the city during the last decade, involving local trade unions and community campaigns
  8. To contact other trades councils in the region and nationally in order to help co-ordinate campaigning on these issues.
  9. To ensure the anti-austerity subcommittee helps organise the detailed work needed to achieve these tasks, to be approved by delegates at each stage, including by electing additional delegates to this body and inviting observers from community campaign groups

Co-ordinating campaigning against council cuts

Leeds TUC recognises that local authorities have spent millions of pounds on supporting their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, but it also knows that despite government assurances to the contrary those authorities won’t get back anything like the
amount they’ve had to spend, thus plunging many of them into considerable debt.

If that debt is not to be passed on to ordinary people by the wholesale cutting of jobs and services a widespread campaign of resistance must be organised as soon as possible, involving local communities, the trade unions and the local authorities themselves to refuse to accept further cuts and to demand that the government provide the necessary funding.

To that end, Leeds TUC calls on the Leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr. Judith Blake, to convene a meeting of all the local authorities in the Yorkshire and the Humber Region in the autumn to see what sort of collective action can be taken.

Further, Leeds TUC agrees to organise a meeting of local trade unionists and community groups in the autumn to build support for those local authorities which are prepared to resist any more economic austerity.


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