Opposition parties reveal alternative to Dundee council budget proposals

Kevin Keenan has revealed Labour’s alternative budget.

Opposition parties have revealed their alternative budget proposals including plans to tackle poverty.

In an exclusive interview with the Tele, Labour leader Kevin Keenan said his party had drawn up an alternative budget they believed would go some way to addressing deprivation in Dundee.

Mr Keenan said: “Our budget is focused on making a difference to children, many of whose families are the working poor and are earning insufficient to give their children a fair chance.

“In Dundee, 38% of children are living in poverty.

“This is something that the Scottish Government and the administration here in the city have failed to do anything to address. The figures continue to grow year-on-year.

“The Labour group plans to reverse increased charges proposed by the administration in the following areas — school meals, pre-school and instrument hire.”

Mr Keenan also promised to address child poverty by assigning £10,000 to each of the Family Support Workers in the city’s 26 Primary Schools and £10,000 to each of the Pupil Support Workers in eight secondary schools — a total of £340,000.

He said: “This would allow family support workers to deliver to children in most need.

“It could go towards new shoes or clothes, as many of our children are relying on clothing banks currently operated by these Family Support Workers.”

Mr Keenan also revealed that Labour would reverse the SNP’s budget cuts of £375,000 to Leisure & Culture Dundee.

And he promised £100 for every primary school pupil and £150 for every secondary school student experiencing poverty via the National Entitlement Card Scheme “to deliver a level playing field for the most vulnerable young people in our society”.

Meanwhile, Dundee Liberal Democrat councillors Craig Duncan and Fraser Macpherson announced their amendments aimed at tackling some of the worst effects of what they described as the “SNP’s austerity cuts” and without increasing the council tax.

Councillor Craig Duncan

The Lib Dem amendments to the budget would, if successful, see proposed increases in school meals, burial charges and social care charges completely scrapped, some car parking charge increases dropped and SNP cuts to recycling and the night noise team reversed.

Councillor Duncan said: “We want to avoid the council tax increasing again this year. Council and other workers earning less than £36,500 will get their first pay increase of more than 1% in a long time this year. It will be 3% — and then along comes the SNP and puts up their council tax by 3%. It is like giving with one hand and taking back with the other.”

Dundee City Council’s budget for 2018/19 will be presented to councillors for approval on Thursday.