Senior councillors in Liverpool have proposed a budget for 2021/22 for the city which will see Council Tax bills rise, £15m of cuts and £4m set aside for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Council will make cuts of £15m and raise Council Tax by almost 5% in a budget plan agreed by senior councillors.
In the Budget for 2021/22 agreed by city councils cabinet on Friday, £4m will be allocated for COVID-19 recovery. This will include a £2m recovery fund to support the council’s recovery plan and a further £2m to kick-start recovery schemes.
The proposals will now be scrutinised by the Audit and Governance select committee on Thursday, February 25, and be voted on by all councillors at the budget council meeting on Wednesday, March 3.
Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: ““We are setting aside a substantial sum of money to help kick start our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.
“Asking people to contribute more in Council Tax is not something we want to do, but if we don’t we would have to cut other services. The simple fact is that the money we raise locally barely covers the cost of providing adult social care.”
Under the budget plan Council Tax – which accounts for 15% of the overall budget – will rise by 4.99%, generating an additional £9.1m, with 3% of the increase ring fenced for adult social care.
This means that six out of 10 homes in Liverpool in Band A will pay an additional £1.10 per week – or £57.08 per year – for local authority services. A total of £15 million of savings will be made through a mix of cutting the cost of services, reducing demand and increasing income. They include:
- The sale of residential ground rents (£2m).
- Restructuring debt and changes to management of cash and assets (£1.5m).
- Additional fees and charges for highways services (£200,000).
- Reviewing the operation and location of One Stop Shops to better serve the needs of communities (£768,000).
- Managing demand for long-term adult social care packages (£1m).
- Reviewing supported accommodation for adults (£1.35m).
- Reshaping home care delivery (£416,000).
However, the cabinet believes its budget proposals will protect key frontline services and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a commitment to long-term funding for the city’s network of children’s centres, additional money for rough sleepers and a start on building council housing at Denford Road in Yew Tree.
There is also funding earmarked in the capital (infrastructure) programme to continue developing Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter, along with upgrading key routes across the city and refurbishing the M&S Arena so it can continue to be a leading concert and events venue.
In addition, the council is setting aside £300,000 for repairs at Peter Lloyd Lifestyles Centre in Tuebrook and will progress plans to develop a community bank in partnership with Wirral and Preston Councils.
The council has secured £20m of funding from the Government to cover Covid-related costs for the coming financial year and an additional £7m as its share of extra national funding for adult social care.
The Acting Mayor added: “Liverpool has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 1,000 deaths and many more of our residents feeling the effects of long COVID. Coronavirus has also been devastating for our economy, with hundreds of businesses going bust and many more teetering on the brink, leaving many families struggling.
“But we have also been a city that has responded magnificently – with individuals, communities, charities and businesses all coming together and doing their bit to support each other.
“We led the way on community testing, giving a lifeline to the vital hospitality and leisure sector in the run-up to Christmas and helping to protect thousands of jobs. We reacted quickly on rough sleeping, giving the most vulnerable a Covid-safe roof over their head and prioritising them for the vaccine because of their health needs.
“This budget commits us to continuing this work, as well as investing in our network of children’s centres which offer such amazing support for youngsters, parents and carers. These are extraordinarily challenging times, but I firmly believe this budget marries the compassion and ambition needed to put Liverpool on the strongest possible footing for the future.”