Cabinet approves budget plans

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Town Hall, Liverpool. Photo: Ida Husøy

The Liverpool City Council Cabinet has approved proposals on where to cut public spending in the first of three tranches of budget options.

The Council estimates that around £143m needs to be saved over the next four years, and Mayor Joe Anderson has split the discussions into three sections to allow enough time for substantial discussion between councillors, council officers and the general public.

The £143m savings come out of a budget of £480m over the four year period. That is added to the £141m that the Council has had to cut over just the last two years.

The proposals, focussing on “regeneration services savings”, amount to around £11m worth of cuts in public spending. Major cuts are suggested in Highways Public Liability Claims, where it is thought that about half a million pounds per annum could be saved by better inspection of roads. A similar saving could be made by reducing the use of technical advisors in the Schools Recovery Programme according to the white paper.

The news of the cabinet approval comes as the Government’s spending watchdog has praised Liverpool City Council’s use of public money in its annual audit.

The report confirms that the authority has “made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness”.

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Paul Brant, said: “It is reassuring to be told by the Audit Commission that we are making spending decisions in a way which delivers value for money and is aligned to our priorities.”

Cllr Brant continued: “However no community or household is likely to remain unaffected in the following years. There are further tough decisions ahead, but we have pledged to make the cuts as fairly as we possibly can and shield services for the most vulnerable from the worst of the spending reductions.”

Mayor Joe Anderson called the cuts “an immense challenge” and said: “We will consider very carefully all the options officers propose. Our guiding principle will be to try and protect services we provide to vulnerable people, as much as we can, as we’ve done in the past two budgets.”

Mayor Anderson explained how systemic changes are needed to adapt to budgeting requirements.

He said: “We need to plan properly for the future with the limited resource we know we will have available. That means finding new ways of delivering and managing the services we provide.

“I have tasked the Chief Executive, Directors and leaders of the opposition parties, to work together with me, to develop bold and fresh ideas about how we reshape the council to deliver quality we can afford, as well as my Mayoral priorities over the next four years.”

Mayor Anderson continued: “We cannot continue to simply cut services. We need to find a way to continue providing services such as leisure centres, libraries, parks, social care and others in a radically different way.”

The cabinet-approved saving options will now be presented to a Full Council on 7th November.

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism