Today’s announcement of the new settlement from Government for 2015/16 is £294m compared to £350m last year. This is a cash cut of £56m – money which we can no longer spend on providing services in our city. And yet again, Liverpool is treated unfairly compared to other places.
The Government’s own figures show a reduction for Liverpool of 5.9% – which is 3 times the national average – while some Councils in the south (e.g. Windsor & Maidenhead and Wokingham) have had a 2.5% increase. These cuts mean less cash for us to spend in the city and means we simply cannot run the council in the way we used to.
I understand how painful it is for people to comprehend changes to a beloved service – whether it is a library, a youth centre, a children’s centre or a leisure centre – but these changes have been forced upon us. I think we have done a good jb in really difficult circumstances over the last four years, where we have worked with partner organisations that have come forward offering to help and council officers and cabinet members have worked incredibly hard to find intelligent and innovative ways of minimising the impact.
Broadly, Liverpool has risen to the challenge and together we have done our best to protect the most vulnerable and needy. I have, along with officers and councillors, been visiting some of the amazing organisations delivering fantastic services to those who need it most.
Using money from the Mayor’s Hope Fund which is contributed to by the people of the city they are trying against all the odds to deliver the best Christmas possible to those who are affected most by the cuts. Make no mistake we have got some really difficult challenges ahead of us.
A few weeks ago in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced a package of “Colossal cuts” – not my words, but the hugely respected Institute for Fiscal Studies. The Coalition Government has made it clear that it intends to keep on attacking the public sector and this is clear evidence of that.
Imagine if the Ministry of Defence was forced to scrap one of its three major services. Would ministers choose to do without the RAF, the navy or the army? This is the type of impossible choice councils have faced as they have lost, on average, a third of their budgets since 2010.