Liverpool City Council plans to cut 150 jobs and close services

Proposals to cut about 150 jobs have been announced by Liverpool City Council as it tries to save £32m from next year’s budget.

Grants to organisations providing social care will be withdrawn and some voluntary groups will lose part or all of their funding under the proposals.

The city council is yet to decide on whether to freeze council tax or raise it by 1.8% to generate an extra £2m.

Labour mayor Joe Anderson said the city had “difficult times to get through”.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in the council, Richard Kemp, said any rise in council tax was “absolutely unnecessary” as the proposed increase would only raise £400,000 more than a freeze would as “the government will give us £1.5m to keep it level”.

The £32m budget savings come on top of the £141m of cuts over the past two years and further cuts of £46m in 2014-15, £35m in 2015-16 and £36m in 2016-17.

Announcing the funding cuts in December, Conservative communities secretary Eric Pickles said authorities had plenty of scope to make further savings while “safeguarding vital public services” and “ending the something-for-nothing culture”.

‘Fairest and best way’

Under the council’s proposals 150 jobs would be cut and a further 250 posts would be transferred to other organisations.

Mr Anderson said the council would do all it could to redeploy staff.

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Even what we have done now will pale into insignificance with what we have to do over the next two years”

Joe Anderson Liverpool mayor

“We will do as much as we can to mitigate the damage to jobs,” he said.

He said the budget proposals had been “a horrendous process with some extremely difficult and hard choices in order to balance the books for the next financial year, but also to prepare for the following year.”

“I’m trying to apply the cuts in the fairest and best way we can but we have some difficult times over the next few years to get through.”

“It is really, really tough to be contemplating reducing or withdrawing good services which are a lifeline for people.

“We’ve had to do it because we’re having 52% of our funding taken away from us. The choice was to do that or set an illegal budget which we’re not going to do.”

Library closures

The plans include reducing funding to adult and children’s social care, selling off four of the city’s nurseries and withdrawing the subsidy to Everton Children’s Centre.

Some of the city’s libraries and Kirkby and Allerton municipal golf courses would close under the plans.

Mayor Joe Anderson blamed the cuts on reduced government funding

A restructure of the library network would save £1m a year while closing the golf clubs, which are running at a loss, would save £300,000, the authority said.

Funding for sheltered housing wardens would be withdrawn and landlords asked to fund the shortfall. The council estimates this would save £1m.

The authority is also proposing to charge for alarms in sheltered housing, to save almost £500,000.

Homeless hostels at Geneva Road and Aigburth Drive are also at risk, with closures thought to save £150,000 per year.

The council’s Integrated Youth and Play Service and Truancy Watch could also be cut under the plans.

‘Hardest hit city’

Mr Anderson warned worse was to come with budget cuts until 2017.

“The simple fact is that we get 80% of our funding from the government, and the savage cut in our grant means we are the hardest hit city in the country.”

“We’ve taken out £141m already in savings and lost 1,600 jobs and we’ve cut funding to the voluntary sector, for instance, already and it’s so sad we have do this.

“Even what we have done now will pale into insignificance with what we have to do over the next two years.”

The council has yet to decide on increasing council tax or accepting a £1.6m government grant to freeze it, which is not available beyond the next financial year. The council could raise it by 1.8% which would generate about £2m income for future budgets.

The proposals are supported by the city council’s budget working group which comprises of the mayor, Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party.

Mr Kemp said the savings amounted to £21m, as £11m of extra income was “mostly government funding” which could not be included in the overall figure, and that his party had only agreed to the measures “in extremis”.

He added the council was “making cuts and not having discussions [with relevant bodies] about what needs to be done”.

“We would not have carried on as a member of the budget working group, because we do not believe these fundamental discussions are being held,” he said.

“We will continue to make cuts unless we have intelligent discussions with users about how you can make savings.”

Consultation will now start on the proposals and they will be considered by the mayoral select committee on 12 February and the cabinet on 22 February.