Covid-19: Leeds TUC challenge council’s proposal for service cuts and job losses

As we progress through the pandemic, Leeds City Council face backlash from Leeds Trades Union Council. This is due to a cuts of services and jobs proposal, reflecting the unfulfilling government budget.

For the financial year ahead, Leeds City Council are expected to receive £67.8m of government funding towards offsetting the monetary impact of Covid-19 – upon the approved 2020/21 budget. 

However, the council predicts there will be a significant budget shortfall of £118.8m that needs to be met, if all financial measures are taken into account. 

Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council’s executive chief officer, fears that this situation is severely worse than the financial crisis of 2010:

‘If we anticipate that we can’t balance our budget, we have to take steps to pair our steps right back to the things we have a legal duty to provide’

‘that would rule out many of the services we provide in the city today’

‘for example, all the cultural institutions we fund in the city are non-statutory’.

Leeds Trades Union Council (TUC), an organisation campaigning for issues affecting working people in their workplaces and communities, urge Leeds City Council to reject these proposals to cuts for jobs and services. 

Instead, Leeds TUC propose to initiate a campaign to win the additional funding which has been requested from the government in May to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Leeds TUC, who represent around 30,000 trade unionists in the area, yearns Leeds City Council to work amongst these trade unions in order to build such a campaign. 

Leeds TUC also propose convening a conference with other affected Labour council groups to discuss a strategy to defend jobs, services, incomes and work conditions. 

Iain Dalton, Leeds TUC Publicity Officer, utilises previous campaign evidence, to argue their success in combating past council proposals:

‘Whilst Leeds has seen funding cuts to the level of £266m a year,

Leeds TUC has successfully reversed cuts proposed by Leeds City Council, such as cuts to 16-18 SEND students to school transport scheme’

‘But we would much prefer to be fighting alongside the council to win the funding necessary from the government to defend jobs and services’.

The government has stated it is working on a comprehensive plan to support councils over the coming year.