On Tuesday 15 February 2022, during the Portsmouth City Council Budget meeting, the Portsmouth Labour Group proposed a budget amendment that includes:
- Paying the Real Living Wage to all social care workers employed in contracted out council services at a cost of £1.6m;
- A £100k Equalities Community Initiatives Grants to fund voluntary and community projects that promote equality and tackle discrimination, such as funding for the annual Portsmouth Pride;
- A £148k Travel Safety Fund with new funding towards road safety, active travel and highways accessibility projects;
- Funding for two money and benefits advisor posts in order to meet demand arising from the cost of living crisis and to tackle the issue of unclaimed benefits at a cost of £64k;
- An extra £100k for the Greening the City Fund to increase the provision of benches, lighting and tree planting in the city, including greening streets and other types of green infrastructure – the additional £100k funding contribution takes the total fund to £150k.
These proposals would be funded by:
- Postponing the land acquisition for the Cosham Land Assembly, which would save £1.6m;
- Postponing the “Bring Your Own Device” IT system upgrade, which would save £150k;
- Postponing the Festoon Lighting works, which is a project for lighting renewal and upgrades but this could be postponed until the sea defence works are completed – this would save £156k;
- Reduction in sea defences public realm enhancements, saving £106k, but leaving a remaining budget of £70k for these works.
Cllr George Fielding, Leader of the Labour Group said: “The Labour Group felt able to support the Liberal Democrat Administration’s Budget because some items prioritise fighting for environmental and social justice for our city. However, we didn’t feel the budget went far enough, which is why we submitted our amendment.
“In our budget amendment, we’ve pushed for bolder, more ambitious action on the issues we know matter most to residents, from responding to the climate emergency, to pushing the council to become a Living Wage employer and investing more in tackling road safety.”
Cllr Cal Corkery, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group said: “The Liberal Democrat Administration has failed to achieve Living Wage accreditation. For months now, they have been dragging their heels and have taken little action to give our council care workers the pay rise they deserve, particularly after everything they’ve done for our city during the pandemic.
“The Living Wage would represent an increase of over £1,200 a year for the lowest paid social care workers in Portsmouth, at a time when we are enduring a cost of living crisis. We will always fight for the rights of social care workers to a proper Living Wage, full sick pay and decent working conditions – they deserve no less.”