The Conservative / Liberal democrat ruling group proposed a budget with very steep cuts. In part this is because of the cuts in government grant and part because they value a low council tax over high quality services. We have therefore proposed a budget amendment that restores some of the cuts and in a few places proposes new expenditure. An explanation is given and then our proposed budget.
Budget narrative, February 2019
York faces major challenges in coming years, young people face a less secure, less prosperous and less healthy future than previous generations – unless we take urgent, bold, radical action.
As we experience record February temperatures, scientists have given us 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. At the same time many families are struggling to make ends meet, forced to choose between eating and keeping a roof over their heads. Uncertainties of Brexit make this worse. With these pressures and a collapsing health service, it is no surprise to see growing levels of self harm and a mental health crisis.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. With a clear vision for the future of York we could start to make a real difference. Continuing funding cuts are of course a huge challenge – but our proposals would create jobs and move us rapidly in the right direction.
Transport generates a quarter of all climate emissions, 70% of this from road transport. York is still far too dominated by the car: worsening air quality, undermining the economy, threatening the city’s heritage and the health of residents.
Transport experts accept that building new roadspace leads to more traffic. Any benefits from dualling the outer ring road will be short lived, lost in a few short years as more cars fill the space. This was clearly indicated to the Council back in 2008 when the consultant’s report identified a very low cost-benefit ratio for dualling the outer ring road, with the most cost-effective measure being the programme of roundabout enlargement now underway.
Our capital budget therefore removes CYC’s 10% contribution to the yet to be confirmed government £28m for partial dualling of the northern ring road. We would re-allocate £2.8 million to a new package of sustainable transport measures helping more people to switch journeys away from the private car while at the same time improving air quality and reducing overall traffic levels.
This would enable us to invest as follows:
Half a million pounds each in a Disabled Access Investment Fund and a Pedestrian Priority Programme. City centre security access restrictions and the ambition of a largely car free city centre only strengthen the need to invest in higher quality facilities for people with disabilities: Shopmobility services, disabled parking bays, a free accessible ‘Nipper bus’ from city centre car parks.
A much better pedestrian environment, whether for people of all abilities and ages, families with buggies and young children, residents or visitors is crucial. Our Pedestrian Priority Programme would focus on improving neighbourhoods and walking routes. New pedestrian crossings, improved junctions and dropped kerbs based on a walking strategy, not simply a government DfT formula.
A half million pound Cycling Investment Fund to focus on creating off-road Dutch style cycle routes, and more secure parking in the city centre and residential areas putting York back on the map to challenge Oxford and Cambridge in levels of cycling.
A half million pound new Better Bus Fund would support more reliable, attractive and comprehensive bus services. To add to this secure overnight parking facilities at Park and Ride sites would encourage visitors to stay longer and enjoy strolling around York or attend concerts rather than clock watching to avoid a £50 release fee. Evening parking charges in council car parks for non-Minster badge holders would increase by £1 to £3, the first increase in this charge for a decade and a small increase in car parking charges (10p) would help to keep park and ride (including evening operation) relatively attractive.
Restoring £100,000 of the bus subsidy budget, would enhance and actively promote evening weekend and early morning services, vital elements of a good bus service. In addition, £200,000 for a 6 month trial of a free city centre shuttle bus to join up key locations including the railway station, city centre shops and the hospital is still a good idea, supported by Labour but scrapped by the Tory/Lib Dem administration when we proposed it 4 years ago.
A Clean Air Project Officer [£50k, £150k over 3 years] would help to drive forward work with schools and partners, raising awareness of health effects of engine idling, extending electric vehicle charging infrastructure and low emission zones and working up freight transhipment as a way of cutting congestion and pollution.
An additional £450k for gully and drainage maintenance would start to eat into the backlog of work which is becoming more urgent with more frequent surface water flooding events.
A Local Shopping Parades Fund would extend the funding given recently to District Centres to struggling suburban parades encouraging walking and cycling to neighbourhood shops.
With Local Plan proposals for 15,000 new homes we would commission a report on options for 21st century public transport, for example light rail or tram systems as part of a long term Transport strategy, neglected since LTP3 was approved in 2011. With such a clear Transport Policy we would aim to draw down further funds from the region and elsewhere.
The council scrutiny of Residents Parking Zones has demonstrated overwhelming public support for Respark particularly if permit charges were closer to those of neighbouring authorities, rather than the current surplus funding creamed off to fund other services. We therefore propose the standard permit charge for new schemes (introduced after March 2019) should be significantly cut to £60pa and all permit holders in existing areas would see 10% reductions year on year until the two rates coalesce. We would also reverse the administration’s cynical removal of the 50% discount respark rate for virtually all small engined low emission cars, which by 2023 will hit over 600 households.
Our budget amendment includes further capital investments that reduce climate change emissions whilst also bringing significant benefits directly to residents.
Energy (includes sustainable schools)
A half million pound Affordable Energy Fund would boost energy efficiency and renewables, future proofing Council owned buildings and tackling fuel poverty through improving Council houses and private sector properties. Private sector landlords could benefit if they committed to high standards of property maintenance thus cutting bills for private tenants and raising standards in private rented housing. This would complement the Executive’s Energy Efficiency Fund which focusses on new developments.
We still want a feasibility study on creating a Council Energy Company modelled on Bristol’s Energy Company, working in partnership with local community energy providers. A Sustainable Schools Pilot Programme would support York schools investing in energy efficiency and sustainability of buildings and grounds, saving on running costs and improving the learning experience.
Green Spaces (includes play and equipment maintenance)
We all recognise the value of green spaces and the opportunity to spend time in nature for both physical and mental health. An area badly cut in recent years, we will create a Green Spaces Development Worker [£50k in capital budget] working across all departments, with other agencies and with residents to improve green spaces and pocket parks.
We will re-invest in paid, professional gardening capacity in our parks to support open spaces officers and volunteers. On-going maintenance cannot rely totally on volunteers as demonstrated by run down neglected beds. We will also fund the locking of all our parks that used to be locked at night [59k revenue budget]. Many residents testify that anti-social behaviour in unlocked parks is a real problem undermining everyone’s efforts to promote a sense of ‘ownership’.
A further half a million pounds would improve play facilities for all communities across York. Whilst we have excellent provision in parts of York there are significant gaps for both younger and older children with very limited provision for teenagers. A new Play Officer post would maximise match funding and oversee installation. Our new Outdoor Maintenance Fund would support ongoing maintenance of new play and outdoor fitness equipment –a lack of capacity has been a barrier to implementing ward schemes.
Waste reduction including better recycling and re-use and repair initiatives is a clear demand from residents. Rather than sending our domestic waste up in smoke at the Allerton Park incinerator we still want to move towards a Zero Waste Strategy for York. A £150,000 Waste Reduction Pilot Programme would seek to improve recycling in the city centre, for example through well designed public recycling bins, as well as improve recycling signage and storage facilities for residential properties with communal bins. A Waste Reduction and Recycling Officer would drive this forward. We will extend the option of a free compost bin or a green waste collection to many more households with gardens that are not currently served.
A detailed report will assess options for a new city-wide food waste collection and recycling of a wider range of plastics. Another study would review options for Re-Use Shops at our two Household Waste Recycling Centres, modelled on Devon County Council and similar initiatives.
Capacity to deliver services
Even your additional investment in social care services will be outstripped by growing pressures with a need for far more affordable care for older people. Our amendment therefore retains current allocations for Adult Social Care including the additional Service Risk Reserve created from New Homes Bonus and Business Rates Pool funds. In order to reverse the most painful cuts and put some funding back into public health services and officer capacity to respond to these pressures, we would increase Council Tax by just over a further 1%. We have also taken £350,000 from reserves, all of which funds one-off revenue investment to build a more sustainable model for council services. Reversing £50,000 pounds of cuts to the provision of day services for adults with disabilities and older people and reducing further cuts [£50,000) to services for people with learning and physical disabilities, recognises the value of these services for improved quality of life and indeed the prevention of further demands on other services. We also identify £200,000 to be re-invested in public health services. Government cuts have meant big reductions across public health budgets including health visitors, school nurses, sexual health services, smoking cessation and substance abuse services. While the Administration puts £100,000 back into substance misuse services from the public health reserve, the same budget records a £200,000 reduction in funding for substance mis-use, the final instalment of earlier savings decisions!
A £500,000 capital investment in extending the Housing First approach to a much wider group of homeless people would enable many more to escape from the revolving door of substance mis-use and mental health issues, back into society. A new Housing First Project Officer post could take this work forward. A study of innovative ways of increasing the amount of genuinely affordable housing on new development sites over and above current thresholds could include the issuing of Local Housing Bonds enabling local residents to invest directly in helping to boost the supply of affordable housing.
A new Welfare Outreach Worker would focus on promoting take up of emergency funding, Council Tax Support and Discretionary Housing Payments;
A Mental Health Champion would coordinate the improvement of mental health services in close partnership with user groups in York – working across all organisations and agencies;
A new Corporate Equalities Officer would ensure that the equalities impacts of all Council decisions are fully taken into account at an early stage of policy formation. Two new Youth Worker posts would work across the city with young people and local area teams, coordinating development of youth clubs, spaces and activities for young people in the many parts of the city where previous cuts have left big gaps and very little provision.
Last, but certainly not least, we will re-instate the post of Climate Change and Sustainability Officer to help the city to rigorously apply our corporate response to the climate emergency and develop One Planet Living in York. The Major Projects Officer recently agreed to focus on new developments is welcome but doesn’t respond to this vital need.
I feel I have to give due credit to the hard work of Treasury staff and Cllr Craghill in the preparation of this amendment- while it may not be supported tonight (I am happy to be surprised) I am sure it will at least provide residents with clear indications of where our priorities lie and no doubt provide fertile ground for other parties to consider carefully in the coming year!
Cllr Andy D’Agorne
42. Executive recommends,
i. That subject to the amendments outlined below, Council agree to the revised capital programme of £556.362m that reflects a net overall increase of £162.498m (as set out in paragraph 89 table 13and in Annex A). Key elements of this include:
a) New Schemes funded by Prudential borrowing totalling £28.960m as set out in tables 3 and summarised in table 13
b) New Schemes funded by a combination of both Prudential borrowing and external funds of £28.7m as set out in table 4 and summarised in table 13;
c) Extension to existing schemes of £7.372m funded by Prudential borrowing as set out in table 5 and summarised in table 13;
d) Extension of prudential borrowing funded Rolling Programme schemes totalling £6.903m as set out in table 5 and summarised in table 13;
e) Extension of externally funded Rolling Programme schemes totalling £7.941m as set out in table 6 and summarised in table 13;
f) An increase in HRA funded schemes totalling £106.022m funded from a combination HRA balances/Right to Buy receipts as set out in table 7 and summarised in table 13
g) Removal of the £28m scheme for the York Outer Ring Road, partly funded by £2.8m of CYC prudential borrowing
h) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in a City Centre and Local Centres Disabled Access Investment Fund to improve capital facilities for people with disabilities, funded by prudential borrowing
i) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in a Pedestrian Priority Programme for residential areas including new pedestrian crossings, improved junctions, drop kerbs and pavement re-surfacing, funded by prudential borrowing
j) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in a Cycling Investment Fund to develop a dedicated, primarily off-road Dutch-style cycle network, starting with filling in the gaps and to make best use of other matching transport funds, funded by prudential borrowing
k) Include a new scheme to invest a further £450k in Gully and Drainage Maintenance, funded by prudential borrowing
l) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in setting up an ongoing Better Bus Fund to improve the physical infrastructure that supports more reliable, affordable, comprehensive and attractive bus services, funded by prudential borrowing
m) Include a new scheme to invest £100k in developing the capacity to introduce secure overnight parking at Park & Ride sites, funded by prudential borrowing
n) Include a new scheme to invest £50k (£150k over 3 years) in a Clean Air Project Officer to support capital schemes relating to the Council’s Clean Air Strategy including the new Clean Air Zone, anti-idling measures, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and exclusion of heavy delivery vehicles from the city centre, funded by prudential borrowing
o) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in setting up an Affordable Energy Fund to invest in energy efficiency and renewables, future proofing Council owned buildings and helping to tackle fuel poverty through improving private sector properties, including grants to private sector landlords in return for proof of high standards of property maintenance, funded by prudential borrowing
p) Include a new scheme to invest £50k in a Green Spaces Development Worker to work across Council departments, with other agencies and with residents to coordinate capital improvements to green infrastructure assets across the city, funded by prudential borrowing
q) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in play infrastructure to fill in gaps in play and recreation provision for young children, older children and teenagers, funded by prudential borrowing
r) Include a new scheme to invest £50k (£100k over 2 years) in a Sustainable Schools Pilot Programme to support York schools to improve capital investment in energy efficiency and sustainability of their buildings and grounds to save money and improve the learning experience, funded by prudential borrowing
s) Include a new scheme to invest £100k in a Local Shopping Parades Fund for measures to improve the street environment infrastructure works and encourage use of local shopping parades, funded by prudential borrowing
t) Include a new scheme to invest £150k in a Waste Reduction Pilot Programme to work with partners to invest in improved recycling infrastructure in the city centre and measures such as improved signage and storage facilities for properties with communal/shared bins, funded by prudential borrowing
u) Include a new scheme to invest £500k in a pilot project to invest in the necessary accommodation and support infrastructure to expand the Housing First approach to a wider group of homeless people, funded by prudential borrowing
ii. Note the total increase in Council borrowing as a result of new schemes being recommended for approval is £47.535m the details of which are considered within this report and the financial strategy report
iii. Approve the full re-stated programme, as set out in table 13 and summarised in Annex B, totalling £556.362m and covering the financial years 2019/20 to 2023/24.
Reason: In accordance with the statutory requirement to set a capital budget for the forthcoming financial year.
43. Executive recommends;
i. That subject to the amendments outlined below, Council approve the budget proposals outlined in the Financial Strategy report and in particular;
a. A revised net revenue expenditure requirement of £124.452m
b. A revised council tax requirement of £91.146m
c. The revenue growth proposals as outlined in the body of the report, subject to the following amendments;
- An additional £116k to support the 2019/20 revenue cost of additional prudential borrowing (£1.65m capital amendment in 2019/20 and £2.3m overall with a total revenue cost of £161k, funded by prudential borrowing)
- An additional £200k investment into public health services – to be allocated via a report to Executive by the Director of Public Health
- An additional £40k investment into a Welfare Outreach Worker to ensure that emergency funding, Council Tax Support and Discretionary Housing Payments are fully taken up by those in most need including those suffering the effects of Universal Credit
- An additional investment of £40k to appoint a 0.8 FTE Mental Health Champion to listen to service users and coordinate the improvement of mental health services in YorkAn additional investment of £100k to increase bus subsidy to target evening/weekend services and service gaps
- An additional investment of £100k to increase bus subsidy to target evening/weekend services and service gaps
- An additional investment of £150k to fund extension of green waste collections (with option of free compost bin)
- An additional investment of £40k to restore park gardeners to work in conjunction with open spaces officers and volunteers to protect and improve our city parksAn additional investment of £59k to lock all parks at night (if residents agree)
- An additional investment of £59k to lock all parks at night (if residents agree)
- An additional £40k investment to create a 0.8 FTE Play Officer post to manage play funds and the installation of new play areas, maximising income from match funding and speeding up implementation
- An additional investment of £40k for an Outdoor Maintenance Fund for new play equipment, outdoor fitness equipment and any other items communities identify where ongoing maintenance is needed.An additional £80k investment to fund 2 FTE Youth Workers to work across the city supporting the development of youth clubs and spaces and activities for young people
- An additional £80k investment to fund 2 FTE Youth Workers to work across the city supporting the development of youth clubs and spaces and activities for young peopleAn additional £40k investment to fund a 0.8 FTE Climate Change and Sustainability Officer to coordinate partner organisations, businesses and individuals in the city to agree and act on meeting climate emission reduction targets for York
- An additional £40k investment to fund a 0.8 FTE Climate Change and Sustainability Officer to coordinate partner organisations, businesses and individuals in the city to agree and act on meeting climate emission reduction targets for YorkAn additional £40k investment to fund a Waste Reduction and Recycling Officer to support waste reduction initiatives, work with partners to improve city centre recycling and improve domestic waste recycling provision for people with communal bins.
- An additional £40k investment to fund a Waste Reduction and Recycling Officer to support waste reduction initiatives, work with partners to improve city centre recycling and improve domestic waste recycling provision for people with communal bins.An additional £40k investment to fund a Housing First Project Officer to identify funding and develop and expand the Housing First approach to a wider group of homeless people
- An additional £40k investment to fund a Housing First Project Officer to identify funding and develop and expand the Housing First approach to a wider group of homeless peopleAn additional £40k investment to fund a Corporate Equalities Officer to support equalities work across departments
- An additional £40k investment to fund a Corporate Equalities Officer to support equalities work across departmentsAn additional £50k one off investment to fund an initial report on the options for providing sufficient sustainable public transport such as light rail/trams to support the proposed level of Local Plan development.
- An additional £50k one off investment to fund an initial report on the options for providing sufficient sustainable public transport such as light rail/trams to support the proposed level of Local Plan development.An additional £50k one off investment to fund an immediate options study on implementing a city wide kerbside Food Waste Collection and extending the range of plastics collected from the kerbside
- An additional £50k one off investment to fund an immediate options study on implementing a city wide kerbside Food Waste Collection and extending the range of plastics collected from the kerbsideAn additional £40k one off investment to fund an options study into setting up Re-Use Shops at or close to CYC Household Waste Recycling Centres
- An additional £40k one off investment to fund an options study into setting up Re-Use Shops at or close to CYC Household Waste Recycling Centres
- An additional £40k one off investment to fund a feasibility study into innovative options, such as Local Housing Bonds, to provide additional genuinely affordable housing over and above other planned thresholds.An additional one off investment to invest £200k in a 6 month pilot of a free city centre shuttle bus to join up key locations in the city including the railway station/York Central, the city centre, the hospital, funded by prudential borrowing
- An additional one off investment to invest £200k in a 6 month pilot of a free city centre shuttle bus to join up key locations in the city including the railway station/York Central, the city centre, the hospital, funded by prudential borrowing
d. The 2019/20 revenue savings proposals as outlined in annex 2, subject to the following amendments;
- Reversal of HHASC7 Small Day Services – £50k
- 50% Reversal of HHASC13 Asset Based Review Learning Disabilities and Physical Disabilities – £50k
e. The fees and charges proposals as outlined in annex 3, subject to the following amendments;
- Reinstate 50% discount for low emission vehicles (tax band A-C for vehicles registered 2001- 2017, and those producing less than 110gm/km for those registered since Mar 2017), costing £60k
- Reduce standard respark charge to £60pa for new schemes brought into force after March 2018 with all existing permit charges cut by 10% in 2019 and a further 10% each subsequent year until they are equalised, costing £43k.
- Increasing visitor evening parking charges to £3. Remains free for Minster badge holders, raising £150kA 10p/hour increase on all car parks to raise £60k
- A 10p/hour increase on all car parks to raise £60k
In order to increase fees and charges by £107k
f. The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget set out in annex 4, the HRA savings proposals set out in annex 5 and the 30 year HRA Business Plan set out in annex 6
g. The dedicated schools grant proposals outlined from paragraph 173
h. The use of £100k of funds previously set aside in a Public Health Grant Reserve, to fund one off investment and £51k New Homes Bonus to fund recurring expenditure, as outlined in paragraph 83;
i. The use of the remaining £522k New Homes Bonus funding and £300k funding from the business rates pool to create a Service Risk Reserve for future use, as outlined in paragraph 84
j. The use of £1.5m funding from the LCR and NWY business rates pools to allocate into the venture fund, to deal with future cashflow or revenue implications regarding major planned developments including Castle Gateway, and Castle Museum, as referred to in the Capital Strategy report, and to be subject to future reports to the Executive
k. The use of £50k from the Venture Fund to fund a feasibility study for an energy provision company to provide reliable, lower cost and sustainable energy for York residents
l. The use of the £358k from the general fund reserve to fund one off investments
ii. That Council note that the effect of approving the income and expenditure proposals included in the recommendations would result in a 4.49% increase in the City of York Council element of the council tax, 1.5% of which would relate to the social care precept.
Reason: To ensure a legally balanced budget is set