Wirral Council budget cut by 25% since 2010

Wirral Council’s budget has been cut by nearly a quarter since 2010.

Analysis by the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) showed that Wirral Council has seen a 24.9% cut in government funding.

Though not one of the highest figures in England, this means Wirral has seen above average cuts to government funding since 2010 according to the campaign group’s data.

Government funding in 2013 represented 55% of council’s core spending nationally but ten years later this is just 28.2%. At the same time, money from local income generation such as council tax has increased by nearly 18% across England according to SIGOMA.

In Wirral, money made from council tax in 2013 was £124m (£153m when adjusted for inflation). In 2022, it was £162m meaning Wirral’s council tax bill has increased by £9m or 5.9% in real terms over ten years. This figure is also before the 4.99% increase passed by all councillors earlier this year.

According to SIGOMA, the switch from government grants has meant government cuts have had a lower impact on wealthier areas who can raise more money from council tax and business rates.

In Wirral, most houses are in the lowest council tax bands meaning the council cannot raise as much money compared to places where house prices are higher.

At the beginning of May, Wirral Council signed the SIGOMA manifesto calling “for a sustainable and fairer future” alongside 46 other councils including Halton, Knowsley, and Liverpool.

The manifesto called for further investment into children’s and adult social care, long-term funding for bus services, new powers to councils such as an undeveloped land tax, and £10m to support poorer households with home insulation.

New Labour leader Cllr Paul Stuart confirmed his party still supported the manifesto which also called for longer-term government funding for councils.

He added, “This is a political decision by successive Tory Governments. Cuts to central government funding have forced Wirral to turn to sources of local revenue to plug budget gaps simply to afford day-to-day provision of vital services.

“As SIGOMA highlight, this is hardest for the worst-off councils like Wirral, as we’re both the most grant dependent, and least able to raise funding from Council Tax increases or through retained Business Rates growth.

“I am proud of our work calling for further funding to support our local community and look forward to building on our previous commitments to make Wirral the best it can be.”

Meanwhile, Wirral’s Green Party co-leader Pat Cleary said, “Austerity has been a disaster and makes a complete mockery of the so-called levelling up agenda.”

He added, “The legacy of austerity looms large in Wirral, especially in our most socially and economically challenged areas. From reduced life expectancy right through to litter on our streets the failed policy of austerity has penalised the most vulnerable in our community. These figures confirm what we already know.

“The Green Party believes in empowering communities to make their own decisions in their own long-term interest. We urgently need effective devolution of powers and a fair allocation of resources to best enable people in Wirral and elsewhere to fulfil their full potential to create safe, resilient and sustainable places where all are welcome.”

Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist said the council tax system was “outdated” adding, “The system of funding local councils, especially those in deprived areas is frankly not fair. Reform has been promised but is forever being kicked down the road.

“I have always supported the work to secure a better deal for councils like Wirral. We have poverty and poor health through generation after generation. This places considerable pressure on family budgets, affecting both physical and mental health of our residents.”

Wirral’s Conservative group didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Image: Ed Barnes

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