Liverpool City Council has approved a budget which will see Council Tax bills increase by 1.99 percent.
The Council has developed a three year strategic programme to manage the £156 million of reductions, providing a long term plan of how its services will look in the future. It follows Central Government funding cuts of £173m over the last three years, hitting the city with a 58% funding cut in real terms since 2011.
The rise will mean the majority of households (60 percent) that live in Band A properties will pay an extra 40 pence per week – 33p for council services and an additional 7p for police and fire services.
Mandatory services – those which the council is legally required to provide – have been required to make savings of around 25% and discretionary services have had to find savings of 50%.
The proposals approved include:
• £42m savings from the Adult Social Care budget over the next three years. This includes a proposal to significantly reduce the number of day centres provided by the council by 2015/16. A formal consultation will explore their future and investigate if we can work with the voluntary sector to provide these services in a different way.
• £16m in savings from Children’s Services. This includes a consultation to significantly reduce the number of council-run Children’s Centres by 2015/16 and this will explore if community groups, the voluntary sector or partner organisations can work with us to provide some of these services.
• A £500,000 reduction in spending on library services every year – in addition to a saving of £1m annual saving agreed last year – which will significantly reduce council-run services in some communities. This proposal will again be subject to a formal consultation and will also look at alternative ways of delivering services.
• £4m savings in the council’s Lifestyle Centres over the next three years including the phased closure of Park Road and Everton Park centres, starting with their swimming facilities.
• A review of school crossing patrols, with the aim of the council removing its funding by 2015/16, along with investments in pelican crossings at key sites. We will work with schools to see if they can individually fund the patrols once the budget saving is made.
Many of the savings will be found through a series of service reviews over the next three years – looking at streamlining the way teams operate and reducing staff numbers. Savings will also be found through renegotiating contracts and funding with suppliers and partners.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Over the last 12 months I have lived and breathed this budget and it doesn’t become any easier over time.
“We are facing the biggest financial challenge this City has ever had to face in its entire history. Forget post-second world war, forget what happened in the eighties – these cuts are far, far worse than any of those challenges.
“I did not become Mayor to implement such devastating cuts or to dramatically affect people’s lives and services. But I did become Mayor to lead this city and to act on behalf of its people. I became Mayor knowing I had to make hard decisions, the right decisions at the right time and to take this city forward.
“I have heard from service users, residents and staff about the devastating impact the cuts are having and will have on their lives. Their stories are heart breaking, but I’m sad to say, they weren’t surprising.
“It is clear that we are in this on our own – no-one is going to save us from the Government funding cuts. We have been dealt our cards and it is up to us to arrange them in whatever way we can. It is up to me as Mayor and all elected members to work together in order to get through what is going to be a very challenging time.
“That’s why we’re doing what we can to protect the most vulnerable, Using the Council’s own money to minimise the impact of the Government’s Council Tax benefit cut, supporting Credit Unions with £1 million and helping foodbanks with the Mayor’s Hope Fund.
“But these challenges will be overcome if we grasp the opportunities; if we are willing to keep an open mind, think differently and be prepared to do things differently; efficiency can be the driver of our most innovative ideas.
“If we want to keep hold of services, if we want to spend money on our young people, our old people, safer, cleaner and greener communities then we have to generate the funding to do it and we have to be resilient and imaginative in what we do.
“The fact is that Liverpool today is a thriving city – a confident and exciting place, a place buzzing with excitement about its future, which is sound and secure.
“We are a city that is rebuilding itself after years of difficulty. We are overcoming the challenges we face, and we are seizing the opportunities we have.
“These cuts are going to make things very difficult – there is no doubt about that. But together we will get through it and together we will move forward.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the best days lie ahead for Liverpool – we will stand side by side and together we will move forward.”