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Issue:- 10 November  2011

Savings choices revealed by council

LIVERPOOL City Council have released details of the budget options from which savings will have to be made in the next year. Elected members have been sent details of £90 million of suggestions put forward by officers, from which £50 million will have to be selected. It is also available on the council’s website. It is hoped that more than half of the money that needs to be saved; 57.5%; will be achieved by doing things such as changing the organisation to make it more efficient, improving income and procuring at a lower price..

Council Leader Joe Anderson said:- “It is important to stress that these are only options for discussion which have been put forward for us to look at.  Over the next month or so we will be having some challenging discussions in order to whittle them down to £50 million of options. I know people will be upset by some of the things that we are having to contemplate, but I can promise them that we will do all we can to make avoid some of the more unpalatable options.  But people should be under no illusion that this is not going to be without pain, and I know that people are going to be extremely upset when they start to realise how it will impact on services.  The simple fact is that we will have to make tough decisions over which services we want to continue to provide, those that we can’t afford to continue or where we will need to change the standard of service.  It is made harder because we have already trimmed away the excess fat by slashing waste and improving efficiency as we as reducing senior salaries and cutting the management structure.  Rather than salami slicing services each year to make the cuts, we want to take a longer term view which enables us to look ahead and envisage where we will be in 2015. We are determined to be as open and honest as we can about the process, which is why we are releasing this information now.”

The city council’s Cabinet has already agreed a report outlining 5 ‘strands’ which will set the broad framework for the budget process and cover the period from 2012 to 2015.  In addition to the £50 million of savings which need to be found for 2012 to 13, the council estimates it will need to find a further £18.5 million in 2013 to 14 and £33.3 million in 2014 to 15.  It means total savings of almost £102 million over the next 3 years on top of the £91 million that had to be found during 2011 to 12.

The 5 strands of the budget policy are:-

Priority led:– valuing what is most important for residents and breaking priorities down into 3 with 1 being the highest priority and the 3rd priority facing greater cutbacks. This means prioritising the priorities

Multi year:– covering a 3 year period up to 2015 avoiding a series of short term annual decisions

Capital and Revenue:– better linking different types of spending, for example, that there are significant revenue costs (day to day spending) from capital (infrastructure) schemes and that some capital spending can reduce revenue spending on maintenance

Transparency:– Making it clear the timetable of decisions and a timeline when people can engage and have their say

Consultative:– seeking a wide range of views and including webcasting of budget meetings and an online budget simulator and ways of feeding in suggestions or views

Further joint budget working party discussions involving the ruling Labour administration and the Liberal Party will be held, and broadcast on the internet. Consultation events for stakeholders and elected members will also be held over the next few weeks and a further Public Question Time will take place in January 2012 before the council sets its budget for 2012/13 in March 2012.  People can write to:-

Budget Views
Liverpool City Council
Chief Executive’s Office
Municipal Buildings
L2 2DH

A ‘You Choose’ online budget calculator will also be launched shortly, so residents can have a go at ‘balancing the budget’ and have a say about the services that are important to them, and where they think the council can save money

Children’s Services are excellent

LIVERPOOL’S Children’s Services department has received a gold star from the government’s independent regulator for education and care..  For the first time ever, the annual OFSTED judgment has given the council the top ranking of 4 out of 4.  The inspectors have noted that there has been a “notable improvement” compared to 2010, reporting that the city council has “built upon its established strengths and there has been good progress in the areas for development.”   There is praise for the work to keep the most vulnerable youngsters free from harm; known as safeguarding and looked after children services; in which were found to be “good with outstanding features” during an inspection earlier this year.  OFSTED say that leadership is strong and there is an “ongoing commitment to children’s services, ensuring safeguarding is a high priority.”   Around 75% of the 167 schools are ranked as good or outstanding by OFSTED and Liverpool is the only major city to have no schools in special measures. And education results are at an all time high; with 86.5% of pupils in Liverpool getting 5 good grades and, significantly, the number getting 5 good grade including English and Maths at the national average for the first time ever Councillor Jane Corbett, cabinet member for education and children’s services, said:- “This report is testament to the hard work of our amazing schools and our own staff who work day in, day out to make sure our young people make the best possible start in life and stay safe. This is an incredible result when you consider the fact we are the most deprived city in the country with all of the additional challenges that brings. Despite the tough and difficult budget decisions that we are having to make, we are determined to prioritise services for children and young people to make sure they are protected. We are committed to helping our young people develop into achieving, healthy and safe individuals and this report shows we are heading in the right direction.”  For the previous 5 years, children’s services was ranked as ‘performing well’ and the move up to ‘excellent’ is significant as there was a toughening of the inspection regime in the wake of the Baby Peter case. Also singled out for praise in the assessment are:-

The city council’s 4 children’s homes

The adoption service

The improvement in GCSE results for pupils from low income families

Bob Clark, interim director for education, said:- “Staff are working really hard to keep young people safe, give them a better education and provide them with every chance to succeed in life, so we are really pleased with this praise from OFSTED.  Receiving the top rating in every area of the report reflects our commitment to providing high quality services for all children, from our most vulnerable to the highest achievers.  But we are not complacent and we know there is much still to achieve, and we will continue to build on the work we are doing to create better futures for all of our young people.”  Areas identified for further improvement include the progress made by children in Early Year’s Foundation Stage and those schools and other establishments which are ranked as satisfactory. The city is also ranked as ‘excellent’ for adult care by the Care Quality Commission.

M56 bridge lorry crash kills driver

A driver was killed and 2 motorists were treated for shock after a lorry fell off a bridge of the A56 onto the westbound carriageway of the M56, at junction 11 near Warrington, on Monday, 7 November 2011. The driver killed in the incident, was driving for the Stobbart Group and was named by Police as Tony Sainsbury, aged 42, from Walton, Liverpool. The Eddie Stobbart lorry had been carrying household goods and it is unclear yet what happened. Cheshire Police have asked witnesses to the collision, which happened around 3:30pm, to contact them on:- 0845 458 0000 quoting: Incident 553. In a statement to the press, the Stobbart Group said:- "The company is currently helping Cheshire Police with its investigations. The Stobbart Group would like to pass on its sincerest condolences to the family of the driver at this extremely difficult time. The company will be offering them our full support."

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