Motion - Cost of Living Crisis and Fair Funding for Wirral Council
Councillor Paul Stuart moved and Councillor Sue Percy seconded a motion submitted in accordance with Standing Order 13.
In moving the motion, Councillor Stuart confirmed that he was happy to accept the Liberal Democrat Group amendment, which was moved by Councillor Phil Gilchrist and seconded by Councillor Allan Brame as follows:
Insert after final paragraph:
‘The letter should be accompanied by the table presented to Leaders on 22 September 2022 which clearly set out how Officers had tracked the pressures facing the Council throughout August and September, along with sufficient commentary on the pressures, to fully and properly make the case for a settlement that recognises local needs.’
Following a debate, and Councillor Stuart having replied, the motion was put and it was –
Resolved (30:18) (1 abstention) – That
Council notes that Wirral Council has made huge improvements in its finances since 2021 and was on course to set a balanced budget for 2023/24, despite 10 years of austerity and a loss of £224m to its budget.
However, the Cost of Living crisis has now resulted in a funding gap for 2023/24 of potentially £49m.
The current dire budgetary forecast is a result of factors beyond the Council’s control, namely:
· Rise in energy costs
· Wage pressures
Wirral is not on its own and the LGA and CIPFA has expressed in the strongest terms their concerns to Government about the financial sustainability of the majority of local councils in England as a result of the Cost of Living crisis.
Council notes that Rishi Sunak, ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently admitted to diverting central government funding from ‘deprived urban areas’ like Wirral to affluent Conservative areas like Royal Tunbridge Wells. Wirral residents deserve better than this.
Council notes that the tax cuts in the ‘mini budget’ and the lifting of the cap on bankers’ bonuses will punish the public sector and send the wrong message at a time when most people are struggling between heating and eating and striving for a fair wage. This was a budget for the rich and was underpinned by the much discredited ideology of ‘trickle down’ economics.
This Government has cut taxes for the richest while ordinary people cannot afford to feed their children or turn on the heating. Now it is starving local councils of funding so that we cannot help our residents when they need us most.
Council notes that the ‘mini budget’ of 23rd September 2022 did not set out a package of measures for local councils. Without Government intervention, councils such as Wirral will be forced to cease all non-essential services that are so vital and cherished by our residents. Without appropriate funding, Wirral and many other councils could be forced to file for bankruptcy.
Council demands fair funding for Wirral. Council requests a fair, long-term funding settlement for Wirral by central government in December 2022.
Council instructs the Leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng as a matter of urgency, asking for the support Wirral needs and deserves in order to maintain and deliver much needed services to our residents.
The letter should be accompanied by the table presented to Leaders on 22 September 2022 which clearly set out how Officers had tracked the pressures facing the Council throughout August and September, along with sufficient commentary on the pressures, to fully and properly make the case for a settlement that recognises local needs.