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Issue:- 11 October  2012

Work starts on 2013/14 budget

WORK has started on the 2013/2014 budget, in which the City  Council needs to find savings of £32 million.  A Budget Working Group; led by Mayor Joe Anderson, and comprising Deputy Mayor  Councillor Paul Brant, Assistant Mayor  Councillor Roz Gladden, Lib Dem Leader  Councillor Richard Kemp and Liberal Leader  Councillor Steve Radford; who is now looking at budget savings put forward by senior officers. Options are being, put forward in 3 tranches, to allow plenty of time for the Mayor,  Councillors and officers to discuss the proposals and allow people to have their say through the budget consultation process.  The 1st set, totalling around a 3rd of the gap (£11 million), will be discussed at the Mayoral Select Committee on Wednesday, 24 October 2012, before going to the Cabinet on Friday, 26 October 2012. They will be made available for staff and residents to view shortly.  Mayor Joe Anderson said:- "Every year, this gets tougher. We have managed to save £141 million over the last 2 years. It was incredibly hard but we did it, thanks to the hard work of our staff,  Councillors and partners. Over the next 4 years, we face a similar problem. We've got to find £143million from a total spend of around £480m. It's an immense challenge for us all and is unsustainable in the longer term. We need to plan properly for the future with the limited resource we know we will have available. That means finding new ways of delivering and managing the services we provide."

In parallel with the budget process, Mayor Joe Anderson has tasked the Chief Executive and his Management Team to develop a long term plan to radically transform the way the  Council operates, so we can deliver better value services, at lower cost.   "We will consider very carefully all the options officers propose. Our guiding principle will be to try and protect services we provide to vulnerable people, as much as we can, as we've done in the past 2 budgets. But I have also tasked the Chief Executive, Directors and leaders of the opposition parties, to work together with me, to develop bold and fresh ideas about how we reshape the  Council to deliver quality we can afford, as well as my Mayoral priorities over the next 4 years. This is about how we do things differently with the resources we have; not just the money, but the skills of our workforce too. We cannot continue to simply cut services. We need to find a way to continue providing services such as leisure centres, libraries, parks, social care and others in a radically different way.  We need to write a new chapter for our services. We need to forge a strong future for Liverpool City  Council where value for money, innovation and our customers come first. And we need to deliver bigger and brighter opportunities for the people of this City.  I want everybody to get involved in this; staff, residents, service users, businesses, partners and voluntary organisations.  Of course, in the short term, we cannot get away from making serious and tough choices. But I can assure people that I intend to steer Liverpool through the next four years. We will come out of it, we will do our best for the people of this City and we will have a better future at the end of it."

Residents, service users, businesses, partner organisations and key stakeholders can send in their views via email or by writing to:- 'Budget Views', Chief Executive's Office, Liverpool City  Council, Municipal Buildings, Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2DH.

You can view a video message from the Mayor about the budget at:- The  Council will also be launchong the 'You Choose' budget simulator online later this month as part of its Budget consultation, and briefings will be held for key stakeholders/community groups. Further consultation will take place once the £32 million of proposals are selected, and some specific proposals will be subject to detailed consultation with the people who use services, as well as service providers and key organisations.


MERSEYSIDE Police Superintendent Kevin Johnson issued the following statement:- "After having heard a number of concerns and issues being raised by residents and a number of incidents, Merseyside Police, on Friday, 5 October 2012, applied for and been granted a temporary closure order of Tushan's Off-licence on Hawthorne Road, Bootle. The Shop will now remain closed until the matter is reviewed by Sefton Council's local licensing committee."

3rd year of  Council Tax freeze announced

THE Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced new support for local authorities in England to help them freeze  Council Tax for a further year and assist in keeping those bills down. The Government will now set aside an extra £450 million to help freeze  Council tax bills in England. The support for local authorities means that taxpayers living in an average Band D home in England could save up to £72 on a f5% in  Council Tax. Over the last 2 years the Government has provided grants of around £2 billion to help freeze  Council Tax. A freeze in  Council tax in 2013 to 2014 would represent a real terms cut of around 2% and a fall of 9% in real terms over the past 3 years. The £450 million will be made available, through a new grant scheme, to local authorities who decide to freeze or reduce their  Council Tax next year. If they do,  Councils, Police and Fire Authorities will stand to receive £225 million of funding in both financial years, 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015, equivalent to raising their 2012 to 2013  Council tax by 1%. In addition, in 2013 to 2014, the Government will propose to lower the local authority tax referendum threshold to 2%. This would mean if a local authority seeks to raise its relevant basic amount of  Council Tax by more than 2%, local people would have the right to keep  Council Tax bills down through a binding referendum veto. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will formally set out the detail on this in December (2012).

Views invited over  Council Tax benefit cuts

TIME is running out for residents in Liverpool to have their say on major changes to  Council Tax benefit.  Liverpool City  Council has to implement a cut of more than £6 million in  Council Tax benefit, as a result of changes being made by the Government. In April 2013,  Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by a new scheme called  Council Tax Support. There will be a 10% in the amount of Government funding provided, and it is being left up to local authorities to decide whether or not to pass on the reduction to claimants.  For Liverpool, this means that savings of £6.2 million from the £62 million budget will have to be found, meaning difficult decisions as to who should continue to get help with their  Council Tax.  Pensioners are not affected, but this means, if payments are reduced to cover the shortfall they will come from the 44,700 working age customers, who receive benefit. As fewer people are making up the shortfall, this could mean an average cut in real terms of 17.5% to those currently claiming this benefit.

The  Council is consulting on 3 options:-

Option A - Funding the shortfall through extra budget cuts and possibly with additional  Council Tax rises, meaning no impact on any claimant's benefits

Option B - Reducing the amount of  Council Tax Support given to all working age claimants by 17.5%. This would mean a single person living in a Band A property who is in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance having to pay £3.41 a week compared to nothing at the moment. A single person earning £121.60 per week would have to pay an additional £1.82 per week; while a couple with two children who work and claim Tax Credits would have to find an extra £2.22 per week

Option C - Funding the shortfall through a mix of options A and B. This may need an increase in  Council Tax and/or budget cuts elsewhere and claimants having to pay less compared to Option B.

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance,  Councillor Paul Brant, said:- "The  Council is being forced into an appalling decision which will impact on hard pressed and vulnerable families who can least afford any reduction in support. It is vital we go out to consultation on a range of options, to find out people's views and make sure we are in the best possible position to make a decision on which option to take. It's a real concern as a lot of these households are going to struggle to make up the difference and may end up slipping further into poverty as a result of the cuts that are being imposed on us by the Government."

Surveys are available by visiting the  Council website, from One Stop Shops and Libraries, or can be sent out by calling:- 0151 233 3009.   All responses will be treated as confidential and will not be shared with 3rd parties.  The closing date is 31 October 2012 and the results will be known in early January 2013, before the  Council makes a decision on how to administer the scheme.

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