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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 03 March 2007

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North West council tax bills set to rise by higher than national average at 4.4%

COUNCIL tax bills in the North West will increase by £56 to £1,345 for a band Dproperty in 2007/08, a rise of 4.4%, according to a key survey of local authorities in England and Wales by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). The average rise for England is 4.2%.  The CIPFA survey analysed the council tax settlements of 2/3rds of English and Welsh local authorities. The response rate of 69% in the North West makes the survey the most comprehensive and accurate examination of town hall finances for the coming year.

A 4.4% increase compares to a current inflation rate of 2.7% in England Wales according to the Consumer Prices Index. The average council tax increase for the North West in 2006/07 was 4.3%.  The rise would have been higher nationally were it not for factors such as the additional £926 million formula grant (3.7% increase on 2006/07) and £719 million in special and specific grants excluding the Dedicated Schools Grant (4.7% increase) for 2007/08, and the delivery of continuing efficiency savings as councils implement the Gershon agenda. In setting their budgets all Councils have also been mindful of the threat of ‘capping’. Last year, capping applied if local tax and budget requirement increases exceeded 5% and 6% respectively.

Steve Freer, CIPFA’s Chief Executive, said:- “This will be regarded as a very positive result in Whitehall and in town halls around the North West. The second lowest annual increase in council taxes in England Wales for 13 years is a significant achievement. There is little doubt that the threat of capping if tax increases exceed 5% has concentrated minds. Councils simply do not want to set a collision course with Government with all of the uncertainty and risk which that involves.”


A VIBRANT group of young people is recruiting members to express their thoughts on Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations for 2008.  The Liverpool Culture Company’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) was formed almost a year ago and is now giving new young people a chance to get involved. Members currently advise on major cultural plans, have hosted fringe events at party political conferences, helping at a 2012 Roadshow with an Olympic theme, plus much more.

Liverpool City Council’s Leader, Cllr Warren Bradley, said:- “The success of the YAG in the relatively short time it’s been running is testament to the hard work of both the young people and the Culture Company. It’s so important to recognise the opinions and views of young people as they will reap the rewards of the legacy of what we are doing culturally.”

To become a member of the YAG, all you need to do is fill in an application form available by email.  The deadline for applications is 29 March 2007. Please note that available places on the YAG are limited.

The Liverpool Culture Company’s YAG co-ordinator, Diane Clayton, said:- “Young people have approached all the consultations we have asked them about with such enthusiasm and intelligence, that we’re really proud of the progress of many of the members and what a great contribution they have made to Capital of Culture plans. We look forward to welcoming new members to carry on these great debates about Liverpool”.

Council tax set to rise by 2.9%

LIVERPOOL’S council tax is set to rise by just the rate of inflation, with more money being spent on services for the most vulnerable.  The proposed budget, which will see an increase of 2.9% in the cost of the council’s services, includes £7 million of additional spending on social services for children and adults. It will mean additional resources for home care and recruiting a pool of foster carers.

Around £800,000 extra will be spent on street cleansing and environmental services to make sure the whole city is sparkling for Capital of Culture year.  And a total of £1 million will be used to set up the new Liverpool PLC inward investment agency and create a subvention fund for the new arena and convention centre at the Kings Dock so it can attract the best conferences. The measures will help create employment and wealth for the city and exploit its tourism potential to ensure a lasting legacy beyond Capital of Culture year in 2008.

Council leader Warren Bradley said:- “Despite one of the worst grant settlements in the country we have managed to put together a budget which allows for extra spending on the most vulnerable.  We have also found additional money to make sure the city looks the best for its year on the global stage as European Capital of Culture.  And we are investing in the future by setting up Liverpool PLC, which will help attract businesses, investors and employment to Liverpool.

Frontline services are being protected and there will be no impact on any of our leisure centres and libraries because we recognise they are valuable community resources.  It is a major achievement for the city council to be able to keep the rise so low when other council’s that have received a far better settlement are struggling.  The budget has been presented to the Resources Select Committee for scrutiny before it goes before the city council next week in the interests of transparency.

I am confident these proposals will stand up to scrutiny and will deliver value for money for all Liverpool’s tax payers.”

The free leisure passes scheme for under 17s which was launched last April is being continued. It has led to a massive increase in the number of youngsters using Lifestyles swimming pools, gyms and sports pitches.  And people wanting to go green by fitting solar panels to their houses will no longer have to pay a fee for submitting a planning application.  Efficiencies will come from saving money on transport costs and streamlining the council’s management structure through natural wastage.

Councillor Keith Turner, executive member for resources, said:- “We are continuing our record of keeping bills as low as possible while at the same time improving services. Overall, bills have risen by an average of just 1% per year since 1998 compared to 7% across the rest of the country.  We will be keeping a very close eye on spending, monitoring every budget line and cost centre to ensure that the savings can be achieved.  Work has already started on the medium term financial plan. By early summer we will present our plans on how we will pay for Capital of Culture without affecting frontline service delivery.”

When the levies set by the waste disposal authority and Merseytravel, which are beyond the control of the city council, are taken into account, the overall rise in bills is 3.7%. This compares to an average of 4.2% across the rest of the country.  The budget proposal will be considered at a meeting of the full council on 7 March 2007.

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