Liverpool Council reveals budget cuts to services

Image caption,
A people's march against the cuts is being planned by the council on Sunday

Liverpool City Council has detailed how it intends to make £91m of savings over the coming year.

It is set to cut half of its senior management posts, saving £4.5m, and reduce the budgets for children's services and adult social care.

It hopes it can reduce predicted job losses from 1,500 to about 1,200.

Council leader Joe Anderson said it had tried to protect frontline services but the scale of the cuts meant "real pain" would be felt in some communities.

The Labour-run council said it had released its reserves of £13m to ease the level of cuts required in the coming year.

It said council tax would be frozen and it would invest in projects to stimulate economic growth in the city.

The Liverpool Apprentice programme will be expanded with a £2m programme to deliver up to 700 more apprenticeships in the coming year.

Nearly £1m will also be invested in a scheme to help get the unemployed back to work.

All-party agreement

But funding for voluntary groups has been cut by £18m, a figure which represents almost 50%.

It said savings in this area have been necessary to protect "life and death" essential services to the most vulnerable.

Funding from central government for children's centres has been cut by £12m over two years, however the council said it would only reduce children's centre funding over this period by £10m.

The council has said it will keep almost all the 26 children's centres open, but is considering closing four centres in the least deprived areas of the city.

Children's care services will see a reduction of 1%.

Adult social care expenditure has only experienced a reduction of 3%.

The libraries budget will be cut by £458,000 in 2011/12, rising to £1.9m in 2012/13.

The council said a full public consultation would start immediately and the cuts would not necessarily mean any closures.

Despite reductions of £1.8m, the council said it would continue to support the cultural sector in Liverpool and many major events would still go ahead.

These include the Mathew Street and Hub festivals, the River Festival and the opening of the new Museum of Liverpool.

March planned

Slavery Remembrance Day and celebrations for Chinese New Year also remain secure for the next year.

The savings represent 22% of its annual £400m budget. A further £50m will need to be saved in 2012/13.

Andrew Stunell, minister for the Department of Communities and Local Government, said the government had made sure that Liverpool was getting a good share of the money available.

"We have to reduce expenditure in public services and we have to find a way of increasing income, and local authorities, including Liverpool, have to play a part in doing that," he said.

"It is a very tough settlement but we have tilted it towards extra support for the most deprived local authorities and councils, of which Liverpool is one, but it still will be tough, there is no doubt about that."

'Challenging times'

He added: "I certainly accept that Liverpool have got some very challenging financial times," he said.

The proposals, which received all-party agreement, will be considered by the full council which meets to set the budget on 2 March.

Mr Anderson has called on people to join a march through the city centre against the government cuts on Sunday.

It will be led by the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Liberal councillors who worked together on the budget and attended by community and voluntary groups.

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