Mayor’s fears over funding

Town Hall night

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has today announced the local government funding settlement in the House of Commons.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “It will take us some time to unpick what this means and separate the facts from the spin, but I have heard nothing from Secretary of State Eric Pickles that gives me any comfort.

“We had already estimated we would lose 52 percent of our funding before the Government announced in the autumn statement that there would be a further cut to local government spending from 2014.

“I am particularly appalled that the Secretary of State has singled out deprived cities such as Liverpool and accused us of holding out the begging bowl. This is at a time where 4,000 people in Liverpool have registered for food banks in the last few months, and where over 40,000 people will be hit by cuts to welfare benefits.

“Liverpool is the most badly hit city in the country, with cuts amounting to £252 per person – four times the national average. By 2017 we estimate we will have lost at least £284 million a year compared to 2011.

“We are not deficit deniers, but we get 80 percent of our funding from central Government, which means we are disproportionately affected compared to leafier and more prosperous parts of the country who raise more of their income through council tax.

“The truth is that local government is facing unprecedented reductions in funding which will change forever the way in which we deliver services. Nobody will be left untouched by the scale of cuts.

“I have already written to the Prime Minister appealing for fairness, and warning of the consequences of the cuts. On 18 January we are hosting a conference in Liverpool with council and faith leaders from other big cities to look at how we deliver the austerity measures with fairness and step up our campaign.

“All we have had so far from Eric Pickles is misleading comments about the level of council reserves, which completely ignores the fact that we can’t touch most of the money as it is already committed for specific schemes or liabilities.”