The first Liverpool City Region budget plan since the election of Steve Rotheram (Lab) as mayor is not a sustainable financial model and the burden of the CA will be “felt locally” unless there is a change in government policy, according to proposals published today.
The budget report, to be considered by the combined authority on 2 February, details how the region’s six constituent councils will cover the £6.2m needed to to support the CA’s single investment fund.
This could have been raised by a mayoral council tax precept but Mr Rotheram this week chose not to levy the tax, saying it would be wrong to ask residents to “pay the price” for government cuts to council and police budgets.
The report said mayoral expenditure in 2018-19 was expected to be £6.197m, including £273,000 office costs, corporate management costs of £4.3m and funding for mayoral priorities of £1.6m.
This equals the £6.197m that is eligible to be funded by the precept.
The transitional funding proposed, by each council, based on population, is as follows:
- Halton BC £513,095
- Knowsley MBC £ 598,004
- Liverpool City Council £1,959,384
- Sefton MBC £1,109,078
- St Helens MBC £721,729
- Wirral MBC £1,298,709
The report says: “[This arrangement] is not a sustainable financial model for future years.
“Unless government policy shifts significantly, the burden of funding the Mayoral CA will continue to be felt locally.
“As a result, the combined authority commits to securing a sustainable funding model for mayoral costs from 2019-20 onwards.”
The report adds Mr Rotheram has sought to minimise costs of mayoral functions and has “established a structure that includes only those functions directly associated with delivering the maximum benefit for the city region”.
It said Mr Rotheram has “challenged officers to reduce costs” and “has delivered a budget that has significantly reduced from levels previously anticipated and is a direct reduction from the level anticipated in the report agreed by the combined authority in June 2016”.
Speaking about the plans, Mr Rotheram said: “As a streamlined and strategic authority we want to make prudent use of our resources and ensure that money is directed at projects that will deliver growth, investment and opportunity to all our communities.
“Devolution is about making more decisions for ourselves and so we need to make sure we are spending money where it has a real impact, improving lives and opportunities for people across our city region.”