With turmoil raging through Westminster, the Tories in meltdown and the continued dithering over Brexit, it’s been another week of chaos and uncertainty.
Here in Liverpool, we see the devastating consequences of our incompetent government every day. But this week, their determination to punish the poor seemed to have finally dawned on now former members of their own party. On the day she left, Heidi Allen declared she could no longer represent a government that has deepened the suffering of the most vulnerable in society despite having the ability to fix it.
Yet, as we see day after day, they refuse to open their eyes.
After welcoming a raft of famous faces from around the globe last week, the international theme continued when I met with Mayor Paulo Cunha of Portugal on Tuesday and the city of Charleroi in Belgium on Friday.
Mayor Cunha was visiting with a trade delegation interested in the textile industry and they toured the city meeting with our universities, businesses and key stakeholders to consider ways we could work together.
I am continuously proud that Liverpool is known as an open and friendly city, looking outwards and warmly welcoming visitors into the fold. A post-Brexit Liverpool will see us forging forward and reinforcing the message that Liverpool is a truly global city – one that warmly welcomes our European neighbours and indeed the rest of the world. We are determined to stay connected, to enhance our current partnerships and to build new ones.
As we enter our 10th year of austerity, our priorities for the coming financial year were discussed in cabinet this morning.
The devastating cuts from the Government have seen our city lose 63% of funding – equivalent to a breath-taking £436m a year. Their fundamentally flawed funding formula has meant that while our city has been ravaged by these cuts, other wealthy and prosperous areas have actually gained.
Despite the enormity of this, we are battling the storm by looking at new and innovative ways to raise revenue. A recent peer review by the LGA commented that we are a well-run, managed and financed authority which is an accolade we should really be proud of.
There are huge challenges ahead – we need to find an additional £21million before the end of 2020. But our fierce commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in society and our vital services will see us fight this injustice.
We sit between the cuts made by the Government and the lived experience of the people of our city every day. This is why we spend £57million every year helping the poor, and why we spend £270 million on adult social care. It is why every one of our libraries and children’s centres remains open – despite other areas of the country seeing mass closures.
My Invest to Earn Scheme is a key player in providing us with much-needed revenue and an example of how we are continually innovating and doing things differently. Buying the Cunard Building, Finch Farm and shares in Liverpool Airport are enabling us to plough money back into our vital services. Similarly, regeneration of key sites such as Edge Lane Retail Park and Mersey Retail Park are attracting welcome business rates into the city. Paddington Village promises be transformative for our city over the next few years as we see billions of pounds worth of investment, new jobs and new industry.
It makes me angry when I think of all we could have done if we had just been treated fairly. It’s unbearable to think of the impact £436million could have made. But I refuse to waste energy mourning over what could have been. My commitment as we head into this new financial year is to continue with the outstanding work we have been doing for the people of our city and to deliver on the core values of this administration.