HOUSEHOLDERS in Liverpool may be asked by Mayor Joe Anderson to agree a council tax rise of up to 10 percent to help the cash-starved city.
People hear about the city having no money, then read about schemes to spend large sums on road works in Lime Street and along The Strand
He is calling for a city-wide referendum, saying government-imposed cuts in grants to Liverpool mean there won’t be enough money to pay for even essential services.
The government has slashed £340m, or 58 percent - of its annual grants to Liverpool since 2010.
If the cash runs out there won’t be resources to keep street lights on, run libraries or sports centres or look after the parks, he says. Furthermore, even if all of those things were ditched, it would only save £68 million and, the council has to make savngs of £90m, he added.
However the super-rise would only be imposed if the people back the idea of paying more - and they have to if it is more than 4 percent because of a government cap.
The mayor has suggested the rise for 2018-2019 with most of it ringfenced to pay for social services.
Because of cheap housing stock - in Liverpool four out of every five homes are in the cheapest A and B bands - the city relied on central govenrment for 80 per cent of its money, therefore its council tax receipts have been low.
But the proposal was attacked today by Lib Dem leader Richard Kemp who said: “We don’t want to see a return to the days when Liverpool had the highest council tax in the country.
“When we took over in 1998 we pledged to bring it off the top, and we succeeded and even managed to freeze the council tax for several years.
“In Liverpool people in the cheapest band A properties pay more than what people pay for their mansion houses in London’s wealth city of Westminster.
“A 10 percent rise would mean poor people paying more to help the extremely poorer people. I appreciate the mayor has a difficult task, but it is not the people who created this problem. The government should pay, rather than ask the people to Liverpool to dip into their pockets."
The council is preparing to create an online “budget simulator” so people can see the changing spending priorities. Mr Anderson said if that showed support for tax rises he would hold a referendum.
But Cllr Kemp said: “There have been four referendums in this country asking people to pay over the allowed amounts and none succeeded.
“What we need is a root and branch look at our finances. People hear about the city having no money, then read about schemes to spend large sums on road works in Lime Street and along the Strand.
“It all has to be paid for, there is no such thing as ‘free’ money. And while the mayor talks about wanting to build more executive homes, we would welcome that, but not at the loss of our parkland such as Sefton Park meadows. The mayor has been sitting on the large site at Otterspool for two years, that should be used."
Liverpool council tax per year v Westminster council tax per year
Band A Liverpool: £1,116.97 v Westminster: £445.87
Band D Liverpool: £1,675.46 v Westminster: £668.81
Band G Liverpool: £2,792.43 v Westminster: £1,114.68
Band H Liverpool: £3,350.92 v Westminster: £1,337.62