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Cllr Phil Davies
Cllr Tony Smith
Cllr Adrian Jones
Cllr Harry Smith
Cllr Brian Kenny
Cllr Pat Hackett
Cllr Chris Jones
Cllr Chris Meaden
Cllr George Davies
Cllr Ann McLachlan
Cllr Phil Davies welcomed people present and commented that the meeting was less noisy than the previous Cabinet meeting. He welcome Joe Blott, the new Strategic Director for Transformation and Resources. No declarations of interest were made.
Cllr Phil Davies said they’d take agenda item 3 (response to alcohol consultation) as an item of Any Other Business as they needed to agree their response to the consultation in time to meet the deadline, so the first main item was Financial Monitoring – Revenue (this is the original report), which was the subject of a revised report in the supplementary agenda.
Cllr Phil Davies asked Peter Timmins to introduce the report. Peter Timmins said that the position on the overspend had improved by a £million, he referred councillors to 2.15 on page 7, talked about the earmarked reserves and referred to table 6 at 3.2 on page 10. He said that the underlying problems had been masked by one-off solutions this year.
Cllr Davies thanked Mr. Timmins for the report and said he wanted to make a few comments. He said it was pleasing to see the overspend this year down, however he said they still had additional pressures such as the bad debts issue in Adult Social Services which there would be a verbal report on later and the Social Services care home fees consultation.
He said they were waiting for a “clear steer from government” in response to the meeting they [the three party leaders] had with the Minister a few weeks ago about flexibility about capitalisation and the way the levies operate. There would be a further meeting with civil servants on Tuesday [29th January] and that they were working hard on the budget options consultation which would end at the end of the month. Following the consultation there would be a report to the Cabinet meeting of the 18th February (where they would also decide on a new three-year Corporate Plan).
Cllr Davies said he wanted to add to the recommendations (which are below):
Add the following to the recommendations in the report:-
1. Cabinet believes that the Government’s austerity policy is proving to be profoundly unfair. Authorities with the highest levels of poverty and deprivation are facing the biggest cuts. At the same time, wealthy areas with the lowest levels of poverty pay less.
2. Wirral is losing £151 per head in cuts. Liverpool is losing £252, Manchester is losing £209, Newcastle is losing £162, Birmingham is losing £166, and Sheffield is losing £140 per head.
3. Milton Keynes is losing just £38 per head. Central Bedfordshire is losing £18 per head. And people in North Dorset are losing just £2 per head.
4. Cabinet also notes that a recent report by SIGOMA (Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities Outside London) indicates that out of the 47 SIGOMA authorities Wirral has had the largest cut in its funding from central government (2.62% cut in revenue spending power 2013-14). This compares with the SIGOMA average of -1.78% and the average for Shire Districts of -1.37%.
5. Cabinet supports the ‘Come Together’ Campaign launched by the Mayor of Liverpool on the 18th January when the Leaders of Core Cities, Merseyside Districts and Faith Leaders met to discuss the impact of the Government’s austerity policy.
6. Cabinet supports the on-line petition which has been launched at www.come-together.co.uk. This calls on the Government to urgently re-think its policy and to apply the cuts more fairly across the country, protecting those most in need, and making sure those in wealthy parts of the country pay their fair share. We urge all residents to sign this petition.
This was seconded by Cllr McLachlan and agreed by the Cabinet.