City council approves 5% council tax rise

Liverpool Council has approved a council tax hike of almost 5% for the next 12 months as opponents comparing it to a firefighting Premier League manager.

As the city council made its plans for the next financial year, a series of recommendations to set a balanced budget put forward by the Labour cabinet have been adopted. This includes raising rates for households to the maximum amount possible for  2024/25.

Council leader Cllr Liam Robinson said the city had taken “hardheaded decisions to deliver a fiscally prudent and balanced budget” having had finances “cut to the bone”.

During an often feisty meeting in which members traded personal barbs, Cllr Carl Cashman, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, described the proposals as “the Sam Allardyce budget, as it’s barely keeping them above the relegation zone.” He added, “We all share a view about this budget, it’s set in the context of an uncaring Tory government and an incompetent Labour council.”

The next 12 months mark the second of a three-year process for Liverpool Council to close a financial black hole of £85m. Despite more than half of the shortfall being delivered in the current financial year, the city council is still required to make tens of millions of pounds in savings this year. 

Local authorities are required to seek approval via a referendum for council tax increases at or above a specified threshold, this was set at 5% for 2024/25. The majority of this can be used for any services, with an additional 2% solely to address the continuing adult social care pressures.

An increase of 4.99% in 2024/25 will equate to an additional £64.81 per year or £1.25 per week for a Band A property. For a band B property, it would equate to £75.60 per year – £1.45 per week.

However, the proposed total revenue generated through council tax in the next financial year – £235m – would potentially be outstripped by the bill the authority faces to fund adult social care during the same period. Cllr Robinson described council tax as a “tarted up version of Thatcher’s hated poll tax.”

Cllr Alan Gibbons launched a stinging attack on the Labour administration, saying there was “nothing to crow about” and said he was thankful Liverpool wasn’t in a similar situation to Birmingham or Nottingham. He added, “There needs to be some humility in this chamber.”

Cllr Robinson dismissed amendments to the budget put forward by the Liberal Democrats, Liverpool Community Independents and Liberal Party groups as “politically trivial”. They were defeated in favour of the substantive budget motion put forward by Labour by 54 votes to 20.

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