Starting to put Liverpool’s Budget right

LpoolTH

Liverpool Town Hall which will not be the heart of intelligent discourse as we approach our budget meeting later on Wednesday afternoon

Today is Liverpool Council’s budget day. I will be moving a resolution on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group which will not be carried. Our main thrust today is that we need to recognise the new realities of their being a new kid on the block. The election of a Liverpool City Region Mayor will change so many things. In particular it will change the pre-eminence of Liverpool Council as the body principally charged with moving the whole city region forward.

Of course, in our opinion Liverpool is the most important of the 6 councils in the LCR. What we do, especially in the City Centre, affects the whole of the conurbation. But the new Mayor will take over the leadership role which for the past five years has been exercised in practice by the Mayor of Liverpool.

Of course we believe that there is now one Mayor too many in Liverpool and the post of the City’s elected mayor should go. However that cannot really be done until 2020 unless the existing Mayor decides to stand down. We are making some financial savings suggestions today. We will be making further suggestions at the Annual meeting of the council in May.

Of course like any budget today only sets the direction for our work. Much depends on what we do and hwo we do it. That is why today we can only make a small amendment when what we really need is a full examination of how the Council works.

We are only allowed to move a financial amendment today so part 1 of this blog is the ‘Header’ to the amendment that we would like to have moved to a budget and a set of decisions from Labour which are more about gimmick than substance:

The principles behind what we will be saying:

Council notes that the City Council has been placed in a difficult financial position because of the failure of successive governments to reform the iniquitous council tax system and to recognise the demographic changes which are leading to people having longer but not necessarily healthier lives.

It notes that the response to this is an increasingly frantic selection of gimmicks which have been an attempt by the Labour Party the failure to make the best of the finances with which they have been granted.

It notes that:

  • The idea of a 10% council tax increase for the year 2018/19 was withdrawn in the face of considerable hostility from the people of Liverpool.
  • At the time this was withdrawn the mayor announced that an announcement would be made in January that money would be raised for social care through a lottery. No such announcement was made.
  • Instead that an announcement was made about the possibility of having council scratchcards although officers have yet to be asked to work this up into a proposition or a budget option.
  • The Mayor has recently announced that dog mess and fly tipping would be dealt with by asking members of the public to film, inform on and witness in court those who offend although officers have yet to be asked to work this up into a proposition or budget option.
  • That in Summer 2015 the Mayor announced that there would be no money to pay for parks from the end of March 2017 and that, fortunately, no budget option has yet to be presented to reduce parks spending.
  • That a large budget hit for the city’s libraries is proposed from financial year 2017/19.

It further notes that the current proposals for the rise in council tax by just under 5% when linked with the just under 4% increase last year means that council tax will have increased by approximately 9% in two years. It notes that this is almost twice the increase in state pensions; more than twice the increase in average private sector earnings and more than 4 times the average increase in public sector earnings in that time. It the notes that the further increase proposed in this forward forecast is just under 5% giving a rise over three years of just over 14% which far exceeds any increase in benefit, wage or salary in that period.

It recognises that the Election of a City Region Mayor in May this year changes the role of this council from being first amongst equals at the heart of the City Region to one of 6 equivalent authorities.

Lastly it notes that it is likely that there will be a further deterioration in public and therefore council finances as a result of the BREXIT vote last June.

Accordingly it resolves:

  • To seek external help to look at the future of the library service in the modern age given the move to computer based reading systems but recognising he need to provide places where people can learn to love and use effectively the written and spoken word
  • To seek external help in looking at models by which the Parks of the city could be maintained with less costs and more income as a major assets for the communities of the City.

The technical amendment that I will actually move is this:

Liberal Democrat Budget Amendment

To be moved by Cllr Richard Kemp and seconded by Cllr Andrew Makinson

  1. That the establishment of the Council’s staff be varied by:

The merging of the Posts of Adult and Children’s Services

The merging of the posts of Chief Executive and Director of Regeneration

Creating a realisable saving of £275,000 in 2017/18

2.  The elimination of car leasing arrangements for Executive Directors and Assistant Executive Directors by eliminating them entirely when any current arrangements cease and their replacement with a mileage system based on the use of their own car on council business.

Creating a realisable saving of £15,000 in 2017/18

  1. That reductions be made in the costs of t he Mayor’s office by 50%

Presenting a realisable saving of £76,000 in 2017/18

And that the resultant saving of £366,000 be used to reduce council tax in 2017/18 and thereafter to provide a new council tax level of £1,508.07 at Band D for the year 2017/18

Tiny steps but it’s all we can do today. Watch this space for our amendments at the Annual Meeting in May

In addition and outside of the specific budget objection the following proposals to make reductions under the Allowances Scheme be submitted for consideration by the Independent Remuneration Panel and any recommendations reported back to the City Council AGM–

 Allowance for the Office of Elected Mayor and on costs of 50% – £44,500

 Special Responsibility Allowance for Cabinet Members and on costs by 20% – £22,600

 Special Responsibility Allowance for Mayoral leads and on costs by 20% – £19,600.”

 

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. . Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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One Response to Starting to put Liverpool’s Budget right

  1. Anthony Tully says:

    If the Mayor makes all the decisions why are we paying. a Chief Executive aa large salary It was my understanding he worked the budget out and presented it to the Council.

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