The government’s autumn statement will have filled councils and residents in the Liverpool City Region with “absolute horror”, according to the Metro Mayor.
Jeremy Hunt MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, took to the floor of the House of Commons yesterday to spell out the government’s economic strategy for the months ahead, following his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget less than two months ago which was accused of spooking the financial markets. Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram offered his reaction to the announcement during a meeting of the combined authority this afternoon.
He said: “Yesterday’s statement from the Chancellor will have huge implications and a significant impact on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, certainly on our local authorities and most importantly the 1.6m people that we are lucky enough to represent. Yesterday’s statement, I would have thought, would have filled the council leaders who sit before me and their residents - who call our city region home - with absolute horror.”
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As part of the statement, the UK Government will allow local authorities like Liverpool to increase their council tax by 5% each year from April 2023 without the need for a referendum. The government said this will give councils “greater flexibility to set council tax levels based on the needs, resources and priorities of their area, including adult social care.”
Under the current rules, councils need to hold a referendum if they want to increase tax beyond 3%, which includes 2% for general spending and 1% on social care. Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said the move “does not bring any reassurance” and accused the government of pushing difficult decisions onto local authorities.
Metro Mayor Rotheram said: “The confirmation of yet more cuts to public services, further hardship for our councils, and stealth taxes will eat away at the disposable income of some of the poorest and it’s going to be very difficult for all of us to stomach. As politicians, we’re clear this economic crisis was created in Downing Street and now ordinary people in regions like ours are being asked to pay the price for that Tory economic mismanagement.”
Criticism was also levelled at the government by Cllr Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council, who said it had not “realised what it has done to us since 2010 and what they’re continuing to do.” She added: “They’ve blown a hole in the economy and they’re making our residents pay for that.”
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