A public consultation on the Liverpool City Council budget for 2022/23 will begin in November with the authority warning there are ‘no easy decisions’ as it looks to cut £34m. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Council will have to make cuts of £34m from its 2022/23 budget, described as “eye-watering” by elected mayor Joanne Anderson.
Since austerity began in 2010, the council has seen its funding reduced by 65% and, despite the Government having already declared the age of austerity is over, the authority continues to face making difficult choices.
Members of the city’s cabinet are being presented with the scale of the challenge on Friday and, in November, the council will begin a public consultation over the cuts and it is warning residents there will be “no easy decisions”.
Mayor Anderson said: “We have to save an eye-watering amount of money in order to legally balance our budget. We will examine every decision through our triple-lock prism of its impact on people, the planet and improving equality.
“We are committed to doing what we can to protect the most vulnerable and those struggling to make ends meet, and they are among our highest priorities.”
The report for cabinet was prepared before the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget statement in Parliament on Wednesday, the full implications of which are currently being assessed.
There are no proposals to withdraw services from Children’s Centres, Lifestyles leisure centres, council-run libraries and no proposals to remove funding from local emergency support grants (known locally as the Liverpool Citizen’s Support Scheme).
The council’s budget is £465m a year less than it was in 2010, and Council Tax only raises 40% of the total needed, with the remainder coming from Government grants and business rates. The figures show a Council Tax rise of 1.99% in 2022/23, and an additional 2% ringfenced for spending on adult social care.
Proposals totalling £18.7m have so far been drawn up following consultation between the Cabinet and council officers, including a mix of reductions in spending and generating additional income. The options include:
- A review of the controlled parking zones and services – to generate £1.6m.
- A £40 annual charge for green bin collections – to raise £1.7m.
- Charging private landlords and social housing providers for pest control – to bring in £200,000.
- Managing demand for school transport – to save £500,000.
- Reviewing high cost packages of care to ensure individual needs are being met and funded in the correct way – to save £1.9m.
- Increasing revenue from filming, cruise liners and events – to bring in £270,000.
- Management restructure – to save £200,000.
- Review of subsidy given to several externally run libraries – to save £280,000.
Following approval of the report, a 10 week consultation on the budget proposals will get under way from Saturday, November 6, giving people the chance to have their say over the plans.
The consultation will include a ‘budget calculator’ which will enable residents to indicate where they would like savings to be made. There will also be drop-in sessions for people to feedback, briefings for councillors and stakeholders and a live online Q&A with the mayor.
Following completion of the consultation, a final budget report will be drawn up and considered by the Cabinet in February 2022, and taken on to a special budget council meeting on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
Mayor Anderson added: “We won’t shirk away from finding sustainable solutions to long-term problems and the double whammy of austerity and COVID-19.”