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Liverpool City Council set to deliver budget to protect vital services

Liverpool City Council has set out its budget proposals for 2024/25 which includes a £20m drive to improve and transform key frontline services.

A key focus of the balanced budget for the next financial year will be to invest this new additional funding into supporting adult social services, children in care, tackling homeless and investing in environmental programmes.

In addition, the Council has increased budgets for demand-led services, as a result of the continuing impact from high inflation and the cost of living crisis, by a further £24m in 2024/25. This is on top of what was thought previously required, some £25m, as set out in the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) in March 2023.

The focus of this budget is to continue to support the most vulnerable in the city’s communities and to deliver improvements driven by better financial management, such as improved collection of payments and maximising the use of new legislation to bring empty properties back into use as quickly as possible.

Key elements of the additional funding include:

  • £7.8m to support transformation activities to improve the delivery of Council services and investment decisions
  • £3.5m for Children’s Services to support its improvement plan, rising to £4.8 million from 2025/26
  • £1.7m for street cleansing over the next two financial years
  • £1.5m for neighbourhood enforcement programmes over next two financial years
  • £1.4m for the new Neighbourhood Model services
  • An additional £1m per year from 2025/26 will be invested to support homelessness services

As well as additional investment, the Council will also put aside 6% of its next expenditure budget in reserve. This equates to £37m which provides financial resilience in case of the need for emergency spending.

The new investment is possible because the Council is starting to deliver on its huge transformation programme to make it as efficient and productive as it can be. The Council is projected to make £85m of savings by 2025/26 of which a significant amount relates to improvements in adults and children’s social care.

In addition a further £18m will have been generated by 2025/26 thanks to increased income collection rates as a result of improvements to online payment processes and streamlining systems.

One such example has been a review of the Single Person discount for Council Tax which has already resulted in more than 1,600 households cancelling their discount, ensuring records are correct and generating an additional £750k. The Council will also continue to provide Council Tax support for the poorest families.

Liverpool City Council has also absorbed the 9.8% National Living Wage increase, which comes into effect from April 1 2024.

The Commissioners have described this budget report as “the culmination of some very impressive teamwork within finance and between finance and strategic directors and Departments, and between officers and the Executive”.

They added: “In our view this report proposes a robust budget for 2024/25 and a solid foundation for managing both revenue and capital over the following years of the MTFS.”

It is being recommended that Council Tax should rise by 4.99 per cent, which is in line with most other local authorities in England. The majority of households, which are in Band A, would pay an extra £1.25 per week. This would raise in total an estimated £235m for the Council, based on a collection rate of 94%. However, for context, the Council’s Adult Social Care bill for 2024/25 will be £247m.

Business Rates will also rise in this financial year, as set by the Government, which is projected to generate £200m for the Council.

  • The spending plans were approved by Cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday, 20 February, and will now be put to all Councillors at the Budget Council meeting on Wednesday, 6 March.

Council Leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, said: “Despite the huge financial challenges that the local government sector is facing, I am hugely proud of the work of the entire Council in proposing a budget which protects essential services and invests in many of the services we know people value the most.

“Our move to a new Neighbourhood Model of joining up services will make us more effective and responsive to issues raised by residents and Councillors, as well as enabling us to tackle issues with rogue landlords and anti-social behaviour.

“In addition to this, we are investing significantly in tackling the issues that matter most to residents, such as flytipping, street cleansing and homelessness.

“We are also putting more money into improving our Children’s Services, to make sure we deliver on our pledge to transform the department into one of the best performing in the country over the next few years.”

Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Cllr Ruth Bennett, said: “We have only been able to propose investment in key services thanks to the hard work that has gone in over the last year to putting our financial house in order.

“The improvements we are making in improving our systems and processes, cracking down on debtors who can, but refuse to pay, driving up the collection of Council Tax and business rates and a focused approach to contract procurement is already boosting our finances significantly.

“At the same time I’m proud of the fact we are able to maintain welfare support for those who need it the most, as well as investing in our Benefits Maximisation team to help tackle poverty and our new Debt Recovery policy which also underpins that approach.

“This prudent financial stewardship reflects our determination to become an efficient organisation that delivers quality services which provide value for money for our residents.”

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