Council Creates Development Investment Fund to Help Tackle Inequality

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Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet have agreed to change how money collected from the Community Investment Levy (CIL) is invested in local communities, creating a new pot of funding that will be spread fairly across all of Sheffield.

CIL is a tool for local authorities to deliver infrastructure to support improvements in an area. Since the Council began charging CIL in 2015, developers can be liable to pay a charge, or ‘levy’, when building in an area.

15% of this levy goes into a neighbourhood pot. This money is then used to support local infrastructure needs. The money agreed and collected in this portion currently stands at around £1.5 million and the Council wants to invest this to ensure that there is the right infrastructure to support the city’s continued development.

Labour, who has overall control of the Council, started a public consultation about spending the money in a fairer way across the city, to direct funds to the communities where they are actually needed. It was also argued by Labour councillors that land values are lower in many less affluent areas and therefore they receive very little in CIL funds, and sometimes none at all.

The approach agreed by the Council’s Labour Cabinet ensures that every area of the city receives investment, based on a fair and nationally agreed formula.

The Council led consultation ran for five weeks and had hundreds of respondents. There was backing for Labour’s proposal and many commented positively on prioritising areas of Sheffield in the greatest need through the Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

There were some objections to the plans, but in total just 30% disagreed with the new redistribution proposal.

Interestingly, there was significant support in areas like Dore and Totley (57% approval) and Fulwood (75% approval), despite the fact these areas have the highest land values are funds collected through CIL.

Commenting on why Labour is changing how these investments are made, Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development and Transport, said:

“At present wealthy parts of the city receive far more Community Infrastructure Levy, but some of the city’s least affluent areas receive less or nothing at all, because land values are lower. In addition, developers are often not required to pay CIL if they are building in areas of greatest deprivation. This is a sensible way to kick-start much needed development, but it means some areas of our city lose out, whilst the wealthiest parts continue to acquire more, making inequality worse.

“Labour’s new approach will help in our ongoing efforts to tackle inequality so that our whole city can benefit from development, not just a few areas. This is by far the fairest way of investing in communities. You would hope that all opposition councillors would get behind these plans, but frustratingly they are not doing so. Thankfully Labour have a fairer, more prosperous vision for Sheffield”.

 

Councillor Jim Steinke, whose team will manage the Development Investment Fund gave his support for the Cabinet report:

“I am delighted that the public consultation has given us the backing to making these changes. Labour has argued that there is a strong moral, and economic, argument for implementing these changes and I am delighted that Sheffield agrees with us.

“I want to reiterate again that Communities that are directly affected by developments will still get what they deserve – new play equipment, green spaces or measures to tackle increased traffic – but we will be able to assess this need more thoroughly, across the whole city.

“It is a shame opposition councillors aren’t supporting this. The Greens are arguing for keeping the neighbourhood CIL money just for the wards with most development in, many of which just so happen to have Green councillors! For instance in City ward, where a lot of recent development has taken place, Green councillors want to keep the CIL money here rather than spend it where it may be more needed more. This is “pork-barrel” politics of the worst kind!”

“It cannot be right that places like Ringinglow and Totley get hundreds of times more than residents in Halfway and Westfield. This is why Labour sought public opinion and now we have their backing we can implement a funding plan for the whole city”.

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Sheffield Labour Council Slams Tory “Great Train Robbery”

Sheffield’s Labour Council has blasted the eye-watering rise in ticket prices, which comes in to force today.

Rail fares will go up by an average of 3.4%, the highest increase in five years. Ticket prices have already risen by 27% since 2010, twice the rate of wages.

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport at Sheffield City Council said:

“This price rise is a total disgrace and will hit hard-working Sheffielders in their pockets hard. For the tens of thousands of Sheffield people who use the trains, this ‘Great Train Robbery’ is an awful way to start 2018.

“Our railways are being run by greedy fat cats on ever higher salaries, when they should be run as a public service, for the public good, with money re-invested in the public interest. Our railway system should be run for the benefit of the many, not to enrich a privileged few.”

“Fares have risen faster wages every year of this clueless government, but the Tories still have the cheek to say there isn’t money to electrify the Midland Mainline, even though it would boost growth by £450 million and help to rebalance our economy.”

“Privatisation has been a disaster for our railways, with higher fares, lower punctuality and a focus on short-term profit rather than long-term investment. Only Labour has the ambition and courage to deliver the railway the public deserves in 2018”

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Irina Amelkina of Gleadless, Sheffield works in Nottingham and commutes every day. She said:

“It’s absolutely absurd rail fares are going up yet again. It’s completely unfair that shareholders and executives at the top are making so much whilst the rest of us are being squeezed and losing out. The railways should be nationalised. It’s really galling to have to pay just to see companies make even more money for slow and unreliable services”

The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said:

“While workers are struggling, the private train companies are raking it in. As we enter the 25th anniversary of railway privatisation legislation, the need for public ownership of rail has never been more popular or necessary.

Speech to Full Council: The Great British Rip Off

Anyone who has spoken to people in Sheffield will be amazed at the LibDem motion. I don’t think I have ever seen a motion that is so out-of-touch, so aloof and so smug. Crisis – what crisis?

Of course, any improvement in the British economy is very welcome, however weak and however overdue.

But nobody should be in any doubt about this change  – it is for the South East, it is for the rich and it is for the short-term.

Let’s remember that 93% of people on zero-hour contracts don’t get any benefit from the rise in tax allowance whatsoever. The increase in tax allowance is almost entirely used by people earning over £30k – it doesn’t benefit the lowest paid whatsoever.

  • So if the economy is doing so well, why is the government planning to borrow an extra £190 billion MORE than they planned?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why does the IFS say an extra 400,000 children will be in poverty by 2015?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are Councils being told to brace themselves for another 4 years of even more savage cuts?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are over 850,000 young people still out of work?
  • If the economy is doing so well, why are living standards still falling?

The answer is because the economy isn’t nearly strong enough. Most working people are not feeling a recovery at all. And even worse, it is built on another housing bubble AND confined to one part of the country AND helping the richest the most.

The Lib-Dems and Tories may be happy with an economy that is low-wage, low-pay and low security, but Sheffield deserves better.

  • That’s why Labour would guarantee a job for every young person out of work for more than a year.
  • That’s why Labour would clamp down on exploitative zero hour contracts.
  • That’s why Labour will freeze energy bills for homes and businesses for two years.

Our communities need real action now, not the LibDems telling people they should feel richer and should be grateful for all the kind things the LibDems have done for them.

So let me finish by saying that if the Liberal Democrats want to make this general election a fight over who can stand up best for families, who can create good jobs and who can help with the cost of living crisis – I have only three words to say to them: Bring it on.

 

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