Mayor’s warning over local government settlement

Liverpool’s Mayor says the latest local government settlement will inevitably mean more pain for council services – with the city hit more than three times harder than the national average.

The council is studying the detailed figures from today’s local government settlement for 2015-16, announced in the House of Commons, to see what impact it will have on the £66.7 million of savings it estimated it would have to find next year.

The Government’s own figures show Liverpool faces a reduction of 5.9 percent in ‘spending power’ in 2015/16 – compared to the national average of 1.8 percent.

However, the ‘spending power’ calculation does not show the full impact of the savings needed, because it offsets the real total by including, for example, income from council tax.

From 2011-2017, Liverpool has lost 58 percent of its central government grant – a total of £329 million, one of the highest reductions in the country.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “This latest announcement does not give me any Christmas cheer, but it is hard to know how bad it really is until we have are able to dig into the detail and get behind the smoke and mirrors from Whitehall.

“I have said before that we are facing the biggest financial challenge ever, and that there is no white charger coming over the hill to save us. In today’s announcement the Government have again limited the amount by which we can raise council tax. The Government talks about localism but acts in a way that means we are even more dependent on the 76 percent of our total budget that they provide, so we are unable to stand on our own two feet.

“We have more difficult and tough choices to make. If we want to keep hold of services, if we want events, if we want to spend money on our young people, our old people, safer, cleaner and greener communities then we will have to find other ways of doing it. By working with partners, other organisations and community groups to deliver services. By finding new ways of raising money, such as by getting businesses to contribute to the cost of the International Mersey River Festival. By attracting more people to live in the city and building more quality housing to generate council tax revenue which we can use to support vital services.

“Despite the challenges, we will continue to do what we can to protect the most vulnerable. We have already demonstrated this by using our own money to minimise the impact of the council tax benefit cut, supporting Credit Unions with £1 million, helping foodbanks with the Mayor’s Hope Fund and introducing the living wage for our staff.”

Once the analysis of the settlement is complete, a report will be presented to the Cabinet early in 2015 outlining the impact on the council’s finances.