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Expert comment: Liverpool – a ballot to save services?

0127 Prof Michael Lavalette Thursday 24 November 2016

Head of Social Work Professor Michael Lavalette discusses the implications of a proposed 10 per cent increase to council tax in Liverpool.  

Liverpool City mayor Joe Anderson has recently announced plans to ballot voters over his proposals for a 10 per cent increase in the council tax.

Mayor Anderson’s case is that the city needs more income to support vital services. He suggests that without this cash injection from local people child and adult social services will cease to function effectively.

So if we want good services, he argues, we should be willing to pay more taxes. His argument seems to talk about ‘redistribution’ and ‘support for the vulnerable’.

Actually his position is an excuse to avoid fighting the cuts and protecting services. It’s his latest solution to managing the cuts and implementing service decline across the city.

Mayor Anderson and the Labour party have been in control of the city whilst some of the most savage cuts have been implemented to services.

Liverpool is particularly reliant on central Government funding. Since 2010 central funding to the council has been reduced by £330 million. The city council is now looking to ‘save’ a further £90 million.

Since 2010 cuts of between 25 and 50 per cent have been made in all local Government departments. For workers this has meant effective wage cuts, work intensification and, for many, redundancy.

The cuts have also bitten deep into the city’s infrastructure. Their impact is felt in mental health, children’s and adult’s services as well as in leisure centres, libraries, parks and on roads. Across Liverpool deteriorating services is the norm.

Liverpool is so reliant on central Government funding because it is a poor city. Four out of five homes in the city are allocated to council house tax bands A and B, which means that only 11 per cent of local government funding actually comes from the council tax.

On most recent figures 32.1% of children living in the city live in poverty – the majority of the children are in working families.

These proposals are not about ‘redistribution’ – taxing the rich to save services is something I would fully support. Rather this is an attempt to squeeze the poor further, forcing many deeper into poverty whilst letting the Government off the hook as they continue to make us pay for the crisis by implementing 'permanent austerity'.

If there is a ballot, in the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable, we should vote no. 

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