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‘Desperate’ Liverpool considering referendum on 10% council tax rise

Liverpudlians may be asked to vote on whether they would accept a 10% increase in council tax to help ‘desperate’ Liverpool City Council maintain their social services, the mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has announced.

The potential referendum, asking residents whether they would support a significant rise above the council’s 3.99% cap, would be the first of its kind in the UK as the council looks to raise £90m over the next three years to counterbalance government funding cuts.

Anderson has warned that without a tax rise all of the city’s council-run services, including libraries, street cleaning and rubbish collections, would have to be cut by around 50% in order to limit the damage to its adult social care and children’s services.

“We are in an absolutely desperate situation and in order to protect our services for the people of Liverpool we will have to make some tough choices,” Anderson admitted.

“We can’t manage the budget without serious cuts and serious consequences. It’s a daunting task. And that’s why I will be asking the question, whether people would support us, in a referendum.”

At present, Liverpool City Council plans to implement the 3.99% increase next year – the maximum amount permitted without holding a local referendum – with 2% of this ring-fenced for adult social care.

However, Anderson added that this would still not be enough to give the council the £90m it needs, hence the need to hold a referendum. This is in part due to the relatively low value of Liverpool’s properties, with the majority of homes in the city falling into the Band A tax band.

“If we closed all of our 19 libraries, scrapped our nine sports centres, cut all spend on culture, stopped maintaining the parks, halted all the highways repairs and street cleansing, and switched off 50,000 lights, that would only save us £68m – and we need to find £90m,” Anderson stressed.

The council is preparing to put a “budget simulator” online next week so that Liverpudlians can see the real impact of changing spending priorities. The mayor explained that this would effectively be a straw poll to inform the council whether to propose a referendum which would cost the taxpayer £350,000 and take place next year.

Although this would mean that Liverpool City Council would only start seeing the benefits of a 10% council tax rise in 2018, Anderson explained that the security of knowing further funds were coming would allow the local authority to be more flexible in its three-year budget.

“I will be pointing out the severity of the challenges that we face,” he said. “This is not a gimmick, the council budget simulator, but a serious attempt to engage council taxpayers in not only understanding the financial state we’re in, but have a say in what we can do, or should do.”

Anderson accepted that he had been elected as mayor to find solutions but believed it responsible to open the discussion to the local population given the seriousness of the council’s plight.

Liverpool council currently spends £152m on adult social care and £95m on children’s social services. Even if the council does implement the 3.99% tax rise permitted without holding a referendum, it estimates that it would still need to slash the budget for these services by 10%.

(Image: Liverpool waterfront, c. Declan McAleese, Flickr)

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N .Bent   14/11/2016 at 17:42

Anderson must pay back £89000 first .

One-Faith   14/11/2016 at 18:03

Put up the minimum wage, make it a proper living wage, I work and pay my bills and have absolutely nothing left, I walk the 3 miles to work every day because I can not afford the bus fare, and any luxury is just a something to dream about, it is about high time that cuts started to come from them at the top, When ever there is money to be taken, it is always from the lowest paid, my out goings are already more then my incommings, You can dream on, if you think you will be getting another penny from me, sick and tired of working for naf all and getting naf all back, from a pedo government that think of nothing but themselvs,

Truth   15/11/2016 at 19:58

Anderson and the other cronies in the Merseyside Labour group are the most corrupt gang of bullies there are. I don't trust one of them to do the best for the working household. Say no to Joe? more like say no to any of them.

John   19/12/2016 at 10:47

Our family cant afford this.The council should amalgamate back office functions with wirral,sefton,knowsley and st helens.That is at least 20th century.An admin area of 1.5m in total is tiny by international standards and i reckon save £195m p.a.

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