Times are hard in urban areas – no-one in the Lib Dems disagrees with that statement. The response of the Labour Party is threefold:
1. To deny that they have anything to do with the problems and that somehow the huge deficit in government, personal and company finances just happened to happen on 1st. April 2010.
2. To pretend that the are simple answers to the problems and that they would not have needed to make big cuts in the national budget; and
3 That it’s all the Government’s fault.
That is why I was appalled at the complacency revealed by the Labour Party at the Mayoral Select Committee held yesterday when I raised the fact that 37% of the money we were given by the government last year to help tenants in real housing need was unclaimed by the Council they said it was all the fault of a system that is complex and changeable. However, although that is true they have no explanation of why the other Labour controlled councils on Merseyside have a much better record in the same circumstances as Liverpool. In fact the best authority (Sefton) only sent 0.3% back to the government.
This is my press release on the issue and I look forward to sharing a response from the council with you.
Council sends £337,000 back to Government
Liverpool Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Richard Kemp CBE has demanded to know why a massive 37% of the government grant for Discretionary Housing payments was returned to the government last year, unspent. A report being presented to the council’s Cabinet on Friday, fails to mention that the Liverpool has in fact, returned money to the government for each of the past 3 financial years.
In a letter to Liverpool Direct Ltd, Cllr Kemp has asked for assurances that systems will be overhauled so that the £1.6m grant money (twice as much as last year) allocated for the current year is spent appropriately to support tenants in great financial need.
Cllr Kemp said: “Last year, Liverpool City Council’s record was appalling. Of nearly £900,000 available for Discretionary Housing payments, the council sent a whopping £337,000 back to the government.”
In contrast to Liverpool’s return of 37%, Government figures reveal that for the same period, Wirral only sent back 11% of their grant money, Knowsley 2.2%, St Helens 1.7% and Sefton, just 0.3%.
Cllr Kemp said “I raised this issue at this week’s Mayoral Select Committee only to be given the excuse of government changes and the complexity of the system. But I would argue that the systems are same throughout the country – how can we perform so badly in comparison to our neighbours in the city region?”