Opposition calls for major investment ahead of Liverpool Council budget

The largest opposition group on Liverpool Council has urged a series of investments to support residents as part of an alternative budget.

Later this week, members of the city council will be asked to improve annual proposals for the next financial year put forward by its Labour cabinet. Among these include raising council tax by the maximum amount available for 2024/25. 

The proposal to increase by almost 5% was described as the “professional things to do” by council leader Liam Robinson. Now, the Liberal Democrat group has put forward a series of amendments to the budget including a cash injection to support those paying the increase green waste charge.

The next 12 months marks 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 seeking 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 would 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 – £247m.

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting at Liverpool Town Hall when the plans will be debated, the Liberal Democrats have laid down an amendment calling for an investment of £45,000 for face-to-face homelessness support. An additional £50,000 would be made available under opposition plans to help those struggling with the increased charge for the collection of garden waste.

It was confirmed last month the tariff would increase by 25% to £50 a year for green bins to be taken by the authority.

The opposition said they want the council to invest £100,000 to support the benefit maximisation team to help residents with claims, including free school meals. Cuts to the local neighbourhood fund would also be scrapped with a “Womble Fund” established as part of proposals for a community-led budget allocated to groups.

Cuts would be made to cabinet member travel expenses under the opposition proposals – backed by the Liverpool Community Independents and Liberal Party groups – “during a cost of living crisis and while Liverpool Council is paying for commissioners.”

Cllr Carl Cashman said, “All councils are facing such tight budget expectations, but Liverpool is doubly unlucky. We’ve got a callous Conservative government that has starved local authorities of funds and we’re stuck with Labour liabilities, cleaning up years of Labour’s financial mismanagement.

“If the Liberal Democrats were in control of the council, we would be looking at far wider reforms to how we operate some of our services – particularly adult and children’s social care – so we can deliver the best value for taxpayers.

“What we’ve put forward, will have a positive impact across our city. What I am proud of is we’ve been able to pull together some additional funds to support the most vulnerable in Liverpool.”

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