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Cathedral choirs among choral lineup at Prescot Festival in June

The 2020 Prescot Festival promises a feast for fans of choral music, with an impressive array of local choirs on the 10-day programme.

1st up, on Saturday 20 June, is the Prescot Festival Chorus, a:- 'Come and Sing' choir that gathers once a year and attracts 100+ singers from across the Region. This year's performance is a selection of highlights from Handel's Messiah, perhaps the most celebrated choral work of all time, featuring the famous:- 'Hallelujah Chorus.' In the 2nd ½ of the evening concert, no fewer than 3 of Liverpool Cathedral's official outreach choirs take to the stage at the Liverpool Cathedral with the Junior Choir, the Gilbert Scott Singers (formerly the Youth Choir) and Liverpool64. The Anglican Cathedral's neighbour, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is represented the following day by the prestigious Liverpool Bach Collective, founded there in 2013. Director Philip Duffy was Master of Music at the cathedral from 1966 to 1996, and had the rare privilege of both composing and conducting for Pope John Paul II's visit to the City in 1982. The ensemble will sing traditional Choral Evensong followed by a Bach cantata on Sunday 21 June 2020. Monday, 22 June 2020 sees a younger generation of singers perform, when School children from across Prescot are invited to take part in the 2nd Annual Primary Schools' Choir Festival. Choral events take place in the majestic, 17th Century Prescot Parish Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, although other concerts and cultural events over the 10 day Prescot Festival take place in other venues across the Town. While choirs are undoubtedly a star of the 16th annual festival, the programme offers something for everyone. Phoenix Concert Orchestra, Dr Jazz and the Cheshire Cats and musical theatre company BOST are just a few of the other artists appearing between, Friday, 19 June and Sunday, 28 June 2020.  Find out more about the Prescot Festival at:- PrescotFestival.Co.UK.

Liverpool to set balanced budget

The Council will set its budget at the Town Hall

LIVERPOOL City Council is to set a balanced budget which will protect key public services including:- Libraries, Leisure Centres and Children's Centres. Through a combination of considerable effort, Government lobbying and invest to earn schemes the Council has been able to significantly reduce the amount it needs to find from frontline services by around half, down from ₤57.6 million to ₤30 million. The Council will set its budget at the Town Hall over the next few days.  Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said:- "This budget balances our books without impacting much loved services such as:- Children's Centres, Libraries and Leisure Centres. We will also continue to significantly invest in services to help the most vulnerable in our City, such as preventing homelessness and our of welfare support initiatives like the Citizen Support Service, Council Tax support scheme and Discretionary Housing Payments to help with rent. I am proud to say that no City in the country does more than Liverpool to protect those living in hardship, and I am committed to keep doing so, despite the cuts we face. Some of this is thanks to our success in building more houses and helping grow business rates, what I call:- 'Invest to Earn.' Without this, we would undoubtedly be cutting far deeper into frontline services. We have, however, had to make some tough decisions which include asking people to contribute more in Council Tax and fees and charges, as well as reviewing some services. I know this is a bitter pill to swallow at a time when some people are struggling, but if we did not do this we would simply be putting even more valued services at risk. It is worth remembering that the money we raise from Council Tax only makes up around 14% of our total budget, which barely covers the cost of providing adult social care."

The budget will be focused on:-

► Improved business rates and Council Tax income for 2020/21 as a result of the city's economic growth and the number of new homes built – both key planks of Mayor Joe Anderson's Invest to Earn strategy

► Reduced contributions of ₤16 million to the Merseyside Pension Fund for 2020/21 because the Council has negotiated to pay in less as its investments have performed better than expected

► Additional Government funding of ₤10 million for adult social care, which was only confirmed just before Christmas following the General Election

The City Council already has ₤436 million less to spend each year in real terms than it did in 2010; equivalent to a 63% cut; due to reductions in funding from central Government.

The proposals will see the books balanced through a mix of cutting the costs of services, reducing demand and increasing income.

Council Tax will rise by 3.99%, which will raise an extra ₤7.2 million compared to 2019/20. This is made up of 1.99% for general spending and two% which is ring fenced for adult social care.

Almost 60% of households, who live in Band A properties, will pay an additional ₤43.90 a year for Local Authority services, which works out at 84p per week. This rises to ₤51.60, or 99p per week, when precepts for Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and the Combined Authority are added.

Key budget proposals include:-

► Reducing the number of children in the most costly residential care placements by placing them in the Council's newly created children's homes or in foster placements

SAVING:- ₤2 million

► Creating a dedicated 'edge of care' team to reduce the number of teenagers coming into services and improve outcomes

SAVING:- ₤1 million

► Supported Living transformation - ensure every individual is supported to live independently in appropriate accommodation with a personal budget

SAVING:- ₤2.5 million

► Redesign of customer services strategy and model

SAVING:- ₤2 million

► Review and remodel of ICT service

SAVING:- ₤900k

► A rise in Council car parking charges

INCOME:- ₤500k

► Reassess adult social care packages, with all those affected to have a benefits check and means test financial assessment

INCOME:- ₤1 million

The budget also includes ₤11 million for an increase in fees for home care providers and residential/nursing homes so they pay staff the national living wage.

2020/2021 Council Tax BANDS


► A 59.2 ₤1,143.95 ₤1,351.52

► B 17.54 ₤1,334.59 ₤1,576.77

► C 12.27 ₤1,525.25 ₤1,802.03

► D 6.87 ₤1,715.90 ₤2,027.27

► E 2.28 ₤2,097.21 ₤2,477.77

► F 1.03 ₤2,478.52 ₤2,928.27

► G 0.77 ₤2,859.84 ₤3,378.79

► H 0.05 ₤3,431.80 ₤4,054.54

It s worth noting that only 14% of the Council's budget is raised through Council Tax. This is because most properties in the City are in lower Council Tax Bands, which pay a lower amount. It is compounded because the total amount that can be raised is reduced by 40% due to the high proportion of households in the City that qualify for discounts and exemptions (eg:- single people or students), or because they qualify for Council Tax support. Much more information about the budget can be found online.

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