All 90 of Liverpool’s councillors from all parties unite to demand a meeting with the Government as ‘a matter of urgency’ saying city is ‘out of options’. Tony McDonough reports
All of Liverpool’s 90 councillors will come together this week in an emergency meeting to discuss the city’s “perilous” £57.6m budget shortfall for 2020/21.
The huge estimated funding gap is in addition to the £436m cut from the council’s annual budget since 2010 – a drop of 63%. All the different parties will unite to call for urgent Government action.
In the summer one of Liverpool’s leading academics and expert in urban regeneration, Professor Michael Parkinson, warned the city’s finances were in a worse state now than in the Militant era in the 1980s.
Town Hall debate
The meeting, taking place at 5pm at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday, September 18, will debate a motion put forward by the leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Liberal parties which lays bare the council’s budgetary position.
It warns the city’s high level of need and poverty means it cannot meet the demand for services from the levels of council tax and business rates that it collects, and notes that its reserves have “now been exhausted, leaving the council with no financial options left”.
And it notes research by the independent Centre for Cities think tank released in January 2019 which found Liverpool has lost £816 of funding per resident since 2010 – one of the worst levels in the country. It calls for an urgent meeting with Treasury officials and ministers “as a matter of urgency”.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We’ve been savaged by austerity over the last decade and there is no area of council spending that has not been affected, including the loss of more than 2,500 staff.
“I am incredibly proud that we have managed to keep delivering services and protecting the most vulnerable in our city, including the homeless, people affected by welfare reform and young people and adults needing social care support.
“Along the way we have managed to find innovative ways to build new schools and create good quality housing, despite the Government axing schemes which were worth hundreds of millions of pounds to Liverpool.
“It is only down to our ingenuity and the terrific hard work of our staff and partners that we have kept the show on the road, and avoided going bust like some other local authorities. We’re now at a point, with our reserves exhausted, of being in a precarious position when it comes to protecting services that people rightly cherish.
“We must be frank and honest with people about the situation we are in, and have a conversation with them about what council services will look like in the future.”