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Issue:- 15 March  2012

Council Tax Freeze Agreed

LIVERPOOL City Council has approved a budget for 2012/13 which will see council tax frozen next year.  The majority of council tax payers who live in Band A properties (around 60%) will continue to pay £872.09 for local authority services but the amount they pay will rise because of increases in precepts and levies for police, fire, transport and waste services.

The council tax rates for each band are:-

Band Council Amount Payable Tax including precepts
A £872.09 £1,017.41
B £1,017.44 £1,186.98
C £1,162.79 £1,356.55
D £1,308.14  £1,526.12
E £1,598.84 £1,865.26
F £1,889.54 £2,204.40
G  £2,180.23 £2,543.53
H £2,616.28 £3,052.24

About £50m worth of savings had to be found, equivalent to around £190 per household.

Councillor Joe Anderson, City Council leader, said:- "It’s been another really tough year for the city council as we have had to deal with huge cuts to our budget from central government.  On top of the £91million last year, we have suffered another £50million cut this year. The services we provide to the city have been seriously affected but we have done everything possible to shield the most vulnerable people in the city. The government has levied the biggest cuts on Liverpool; which has the greatest needs and poverty of anywhere in the country.  We have found ways of avoiding making some of the most unpalatable cuts which we thought we may be forced to make. We have retained school uniform grants, kept our children’s centres open and not cut services for mental health.  It shows how badly the government cuts have affected the city that we had even to consider this type of saving.  But despite the huge problems we face we still have great confidence in the city. The City Deal which we have negotiated will bring in at least £130m for schools and big regeneration projects. The cruise liner terminal will bring enormous economic benefits to the city and the approval of the £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters heralds a new era in the regeneration of Liverpool."

Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet member for Finance, Councillor Paul Brant, said:- "This has been an exceptionally difficult budget to set as once again, despite Liverpool being recognised as having the most need of any area in the country, we have had to face the highest level off cuts.  We want to protect hard-pressed families so we are freezing council tax and wherever possible we have protected essential frontline services. For this budget we have worked in a new, and open transparent manner and the contributions made by residents, businesses and the voluntary sector has helped shaped the budget and it is better for it.  We are now determined to find new ways of working which will see Liverpool as a responsible and caring city which is undergoing massive regeneration."

The savings have been made through a range of measures, including:-

About £20 million from updating financial planning assumptions and reducing the amount of money set aside for emergencies and liabilities.

A review of the running of 26 Children’s Centres, but each Centre will still provide core services.

Substantial amounts of funding will still be provided in adult social care to support the most vulnerable people to live at home or in supported accommodation.

Streamlining teams that deliver major development projects and combining the culture and tourism services

Introducing charges for advice provided to developers before they submit a planning application

The council estimates it will need to find a further £21.6 million in 2013 to 2014 and £39.3 million in 2014 to 2015.

A further £45.6 million will have to be found between 2015 and 2017.

Rise in 'shisha bars' prompts health warning on dangers of waterpipe smoking

THE British Heart Foundation are warning people in the North West about the dangers of shisha as part of 'No Smoking Day 2012', after new data reveals widespread unawareness of the harm it can cause coupled with a rise in the number of shisha bars across the region.  Shisha smokers inhaling flavoured tobacco through exotic waterpipes have become a common sight in city streets across the UK. But under the romance and heady smells lies a familiar killer the BHF wants the public to be aware of.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said:- "Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes. Don’t be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome sounding fruity flavours, if you use shisha you are a smoker and that means you’re putting your health at risk.  It’s linked to the same serious and life-threatening diseases as cigarettes and there are added risks because you often smoke it for far longer than you would a cigarette and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco."

Shisha smoking is linked to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smoking including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy. Yet 9% adults in the North West surveyed for the BHF thought there were no health harms from using shisha, and just 44% knew shisha could contain tobacco.

Freedom of Information data from 133 local authorities in major towns and cities across the UK shows 53% have; or have had a shisha bar since 2007, while more than 40% have seen a rise in the number of shisha bars since the smoking ban came into force. In the North West, 47% have; or have had a shisha bar, and 47% have seen a rise.

This is in stark contrast to the steady decline in cigarette smokers in the UK and has prompted the BHF to urge people to find out the facts about shisha, which is also known as hookah, hubble bubble and narghile, as part of its No Smoking Day campaign.

More than 750,000 people attempt to quit on No Smoking Day each year. But the charity is concerned thousands of quitters may still be putting their health at risk by using shisha, and that the rising number of shisha bars could provide a new gateway for people to start smoking and become addicted to tobacco.

Almost everyone in the North West surveyed for the BHF were unaware that during a typical hour long shisha session you can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100 tobacco cigarettes. A total of 84% of respondents in the North West thought it was 10 or fewer.

Andrea Crossfield, Director of Tobacco Free Futures which works to tackle tobacco harms across the North West, said:- "Many users of shisha do not know or understand the health risks associated with smoking such products. It’s worrying that shisha smoking is becoming increasingly fashionable amongst young people and is not just prevalent within minority and ethnic communities, and we also need to do more to highlight that shisha bars are not exempt from the legislation which covers other tobacco."

Nationally, the survey results showed shisha is most popular among young people with 27% of UK 18 to 24 year olds saying they’d used it. Worryingly misconceptions about the dangers of shisha were highest among this group and those aged 25 to 34 with 15% each believing there were no health harms from shisha at all while 44% of the younger UK adults thought it was less harmful than cigarettes.  By comparison, 17% of overall UK respondents thought shisha was less harmful than cigarettes. In the North West, 14% adults thought it was less harmful.

The national data showed shisha is no longer a pastime for perceived specific community groups alone, with 8% people of white ethnicity saying they’d used it.  The survey also showed 9% of former cigarette smokers in the UK have used shisha as well as 8% non-smokers.  Figures for the North West show 5% people use it. Smokers who want to find out more can visit:- or call:- 0800 434 6677.

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