Balanced budget recommended for approval

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet has approved budget proposals which will protect key frontline services and help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The balanced budget for 2021/22 includes:

  • A commitment to long-term funding for the city’s network of children’s centres
  • Additional money to ensure all rough sleepers are prioritised with the offer of a roof over their head
  • A start on building council housing at Denford Road in Yew Tree
  • A £2 million recovery fund to support the council’s Covid-19 recovery plan
  • A £2 million development budget to kick start schemes linked to economic recovery

There is also funding earmarked in the capital (infrastructure) programme to continue developing Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter – which will deliver good quality jobs, along with upgrading key routes across the city and refurbishing the M&S Arena so it can continue to be a leading concert and events venue.

In addition, the council is setting aside £300k for repairs at Peter Lloyd Lifestyles Centre in Tuebrook and will progress plans to develop a community bank in partnership with Wirral and Preston Councils.

The council has secured £20 million of funding from the Government to cover Covid-related costs for the coming financial year and an additional £7 million as its share of extra national funding for adult social care.

A proposal for One Stop Shops to become pop-up facilities has been amended with a commitment to retain two full time services within council buildings such as libraries or adult learning centres. There will also be regular face to face slots for members of the public at a number of community locations, and a programme of flexible pop up services across the city, to increase opportunities to access the service.

Council Tax – which accounts for just 15 per cent of the overall budget – will rise by 4.99 per cent, generating an additional £9.1 million, with 3 per cent of the increase ring fenced for adult social care. This means that six out of ten homes in Liverpool in Band A will pay an additional £1.10 per week – or £57.08 per year – for local authority services.

Liverpool will be one of the few local authorities to continue with a Council Tax Support scheme to help those on low incomes. In addition, the Citizen Support Scheme will make payments to people in crisis and Discretionary Housing Payments will help people needing emergency support to pay their rent.

A total of £15 million of savings will be made through a mix of cutting the cost of services, reducing demand and increasing income. They include:

  • The sale of residential ground rents (£2 million)
  • Restructuring debt and changes to management of cash and assets (£1.5 million)
  • Additional fees and charges for highways services (£200k)
  • Reviewing the operation and location of One Stop Shops to better serve the needs of communities (£768k)
  • Managing demand for long-term adult social care packages (£1 million)
  • Reviewing supported accommodation for adults (£1.35 million)
  • Reshaping home care delivery (£416k)

Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Liverpool has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 1,000 deaths and many more of our residents feeling the effects of Long Covid.

“Coronavirus has also been devastating for our economy, with hundreds of businesses going bust and many more teetering on the brink, leaving many families struggling.

“But we have also been a city that has responded magnificently – with individuals, communities, charities and businesses all coming together and doing their bit to support each other.

“We led the way on community testing, giving a lifeline to the vital hospitality and leisure sector in the run-up to Christmas and helping to protect thousands of jobs.

“We reacted quickly on rough sleeping, giving the most vulnerable a Covid-safe roof over their head and prioritising them for the vaccine because of their health needs.

“This budget commits us to continuing this work, as well as investing in our network of children’s centres which offer such amazing support for youngsters, parents and carers.

“We are setting aside a substantial sum of money to help kick start our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Asking people to contribute more in Council Tax is not something we want to do, but if we don’t we would have to cut other services. The simple fact is that the money we raise locally barely covers the cost of providing adult social care.

“These are extraordinarily challenging times, but I firmly believe this budget marries the compassion and ambition needed to put Liverpool on the strongest possible footing for the future.”

The proposals will now be scrutinised by the Audit and Governance select committee on Thursday 25 February and be voted on at the budget council meeting on Wednesday 3 March.