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Council Tax and Budget Announcement 2018/19

Due to ongoing financial pressure brought on by Government austerity measures and continuing demands on Adult and Children’s Social Care, Council Tax for 2018/19 will rise by 5.99% for Sefton Council services.

The total Council Tax, including Police and Fire services charges, will increase by 5.98% for the coming financial year.

Last year Sefton Council agreed a three year budget plan to save a further £64m.

At Full Council this evening (March 1), councillors agreed the second year of the budget plan and approved a Council Tax increase in 2018/19 of 2.99% along with a Social Care Council Tax Precept of 3% in 2018/19 making a total of 5.99% for Sefton Council services.

Due to central Government policy, from 2011-17, Sefton Council has faced a funding gap of £169m. From 2017-20 a further £64m of savings was identified to set a balanced budget. This is a total funding gap of £233m.

In total, the Council will have lost 51% of Government funding between 2010 and 2020.

Cllr Ian Maher, Sefton Council’s Labour leader, said:

“Putting it simply, local councils like Sefton have less money to spend on important services because the Government has been giving us less money to support the delivery of local public services every year. This has got to stop.

“Last year we were faced with the challenge of having to find another £64m budget reduction by 2020 and when the Council agreed its three year budget plan we set out how we would do this. I have to say that the plan is broadly on target to deliver the required outcomes brought about by the unfair cuts imposed on us by this and the previous Government.

“We are now entering the second year of our three-year plan and have refreshed our plan slightly to ensure that we can balance the books.

“To help us to deliver our partnership ambitions set out in the 2030 Vision, achieve the best possible outcomes for Sefton and ensure the financial sustainability of the Council, we have four priority areas of work. These are:
– Creating more and better jobs for local people – Economic Growth
– Working together to deliver affordable services which achieve the best possible outcomes for our communities – Public Sector Reform
– Making every pound count in everything we do – Service Delivery Options
– Investing wisely and creatively to make and save money, grow faster and enable our communities to thrive – Strategic Investment

“We have been very clear that we must take control of our own destiny. We live in a very uncertain world of reducing resources, increased demand and concerns over Brexit. The more we can do for ourselves the more resilient we will be in the future.

“This first year of our three year budget plan has seen the Council demonstrate delivery against these bold ambitions with the purchase of the Bootle New Strand Shopping Centre and in principle approval to the creation of a wholly owned Council Housing Development Company. Both of these decisions sit at the heart of Council and partner ambitions and aspirations, to create a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

“The purchase of Bootle New Strand saw a much loved local asset bought back into UK and local ownership. People often ask me why the Council has made this investment and my response is that this type of investment allows us to put money back into local public services for local people. As an example £500k of investment income enables us to support about 14 foster families who provide amazing care and support care for some of Sefton’s most vulnerable children and young people. Council Tax and Business Rates were not the source of funds used to purchase the shopping centre. Instead, the investment was funded through a loan to the Council and servicing the debt can be comfortably accommodated within the financial return to us.

“We will continue to adapt to change, innovating and putting our communities first. Change will continue but we will build on the many strengths and assets we have in Sefton and to be bold and confident about the future for our communities.

“Our focus will continue on generating more of our own money to help fund local public services and make every pound count.

“Sefton has an excellent track record for listening to its communities and will continue to ask for people’s views on any future proposals that would affect the delivery of services in any way.

“While we are confident we can deliver our budget plan, it has to be stressed that all the signs point to further austerity and cuts beyond 2020. There is no indication of a change in government policy re austerity and the pressure on care services are forecast to increase even further.”

The increase in Council Tax for a Band C property (for Sefton Council services) will rise from £1,278.70 in 2017/18 to £1,355.30 for 2018/19. Including Police and Fire services the rise for a Band C property will be from £1,492.31 in 2017/18 to £1,581.55 in 2018/19. This excludes the amounts charged by Parish Councils for homes in their areas.