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Posted by: John Brace | 12th February 2014

Are the cuts to Wirral Council’s budget really as bad as politicians have told us?

Are the cuts to Wirral Council’s budget really as bad as politicians have told us?

                        

The information for these tables I’ve used from a Department for Communities and Local Government policy paper which has an explanatory note on how these figures are calculated. Spending power refers to the overall money available for to local councils combining how much they have from Council Tax, business rates and government grants.

Local Authority2013-14 Spending Power (adjusted) (£ million)2014-15 Spending Power including Efficiency Support Grant (£ million)Change £ millionChange %
Knowsley198.784187.589-11.194-5.6%
Liverpool571.351540.223-31.129-5.4%
Sefton271.588260.465-11.123-4.1%
St Helens176.510168.318-7.832-4.4%
Wirral328.860315.035-13.825-4.2%
Merseyside Fire67.86364.048-2.816-4.1%

The population covered by each is different though, so here is a table showing the spend by dwelling.

Local Authority2013-14 Spending Power (adjusted) per Dwelling2014-15 Spending Power including Efficiency Support Grant per Dwelling (£ per dwelling)Change £ per dwellingChange %
Knowsley3,058.352,886.12-172.23-5.6%
Liverpool2,636.012,492.39-143.62-5.4%
Sefton2,164.672,076.01-88.65-4.1%
St Helens2,193.152,095.64-97.51-4.4%
Wirral2,250.352,155.75-94.60-4.2%
Merseyside Fire107.10102.65-4.44-4.1%

But what about the Shire I can imagine a politician saying (seemingly forgetting that the Shire is better known for being a fictional place inhabited by hobbits in a fictional world invented by JRR Tolkien)? There are five types of shire, shire unitaries with and without fire, shire counties with and without fire and shire districts. The change in their spending power collectively of each type of shire varies from a 1.2% drop (for shire counties with fire) to a 2.9% drop (for shire unitaries without fire). So yes, in percentage terms the cuts to shires’ budgets are less than the drop in Wirral’s spending power.

However it’s important to note that the spending power of shires was to start with much lower per a dwelling to begin with than Wirral’s. These range from £296.22 per a dwelling for shire districts compared to Wirral’s £2,250.35 to an average of £2,028.61 per a dwelling for shire unitaries with fire.

But what about North Dorset (which seems to be the favourite council for certain Wirral politicians to compare Wirral to)? Well North Dorset has about a fifth of the dwellings that Wirral does. Its spending power for 2013-14 is £7.729 million (2.4% of Wirral’s). Its cut is 2.8% of its budget. Personally I hardly think it’s a fair comparison (although I very much doubt that’ll stop Labour politicians using it).

If we compare Wirral Council to other Merseyside councils (plus the fire authority), the cuts to Wirral Council aren’t exceptional or extraordinary. If we rank the cuts as a percentage to the five councils on Merseyside (plus the fire authority) the cuts to Wirral Council’s budget only come out at fourth.

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Responses

  1. Thou art verily the soothsayer, the speaker of truths, whose counsel is much to be prized above that of Wormtongue and this burgh like the Kingdom of Rohan is much in need of thou

    • I’m flattered by your comment, but I’m curious as to which character at Wirral Council you are comparing to Gríma Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings.

  2. Sefton is the best comparison using the ‘nearest neighbour’ concept,similar area and demographic. However the ‘shires’ have a different local authority structure with parish and district councils leading up to County councils. The interesting fact to note is that there is rarely party politics seen in the parish and district,they are mainly independent people,so no blaming the other side. For once Thatcher was right ‘Local Government is no place for party politics’

    • You’re right. I sometimes wonder why parish councils (sometimes called community councils) haven’t been started in areas on the Wirral.

      However there are two neighbourhood planning forums on the Wirral, Devonshire Park Residents Association and Hoylake Community Planning Forum that have a similar function to that of parish councils when it comes to planning matters.

      I think to trigger a referendum on creating a parish council requires a petition of x percent in the population proposed to be covered by it (the % varies depending on the size ranging from 50% in an area with fewer than 500 electors to 10% in an area of more than 2,500). Alternatively I think Wirral Council has the power to create parish councils if it so wished.

      Such parish councils (if created) would act as a check and balance on Wirral Council and create a tier of representatives at a more local level than the three per approximately ten thousand ratio there is of local councillors at present.


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