Centre for Cities: Council cuts can’t continue

Liverpool has seen a 32% fall in council spending since 2009 according to Centre for Cities’ latest report, prompting Mayor Joe Anderson to call for “an end to ministerial indifference” as North West cities bear the brunt of austerity funding cuts.

Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook 2019 report shows that of all cities, Liverpool saw the biggest drop in local government spending per head in Britain, at £441m, equating to an £816 fall in day-to-day council spending per person.

The report also found that the North West’s nine cities have received an average 18% reduction to their budgets over the past decade, equivalent to £350 less for each person living in them.

Centre for Cities highlights that “they were collectively dealt 77% of all local government austerity cuts to the region, despite being home to 67% of the population”.

Blackburn and Burnley saw the North West’s second and third highest reductions in day-to-day council spending after Liverpool, while Blackpool and Preston saw the smallest reduction.

Anderson said: “This report confirms what I’ve been saying for years. We’ve not been asking for special treatment – just fairness. If we’d have had the average cut of other councils we’d be £80m better off.

Centre For Cities 2019 Map

“The Government is turning a blind eye to the reality of what is happening to local authorities, in particular the poorest. We are limited in the amount we can bring in from council tax because Government has restricted rises and most of our properties are small terraces. For instance, we get £174m in Council Tax and we spend £172m on adult social care – it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that this isn’t sustainable.

“Government urgently needs to revisit its plans for the funding formula and try and come up with one that is genuinely fair to everybody across the country. Only by doing so can places like Liverpool actually meet its needs and requirements to help those most in need.

“We also need more freedoms and loosening of the Whitehall purse strings so we can return to an era where councils devised their own practical solutions to problems, so we aren’t waiting for an end to ministerial indifference.” 

Fairer funding means more funding

Centre for Cities argues that while North West’s cities have been able to make do with less by becoming more efficient, reductions in funding and the increase in demand for social care have meant cuts to other services. Spending on public conveniences such as toilets has fallen by 66% over the past decade, while spending on arts development and support has dropped by 43%, and library services by 36%.

Blackpool’s relatively light budget cuts are likely to be because a significant portion of its budget is dedicated to social care, on which spending has been protected.

While the report highlights that London received huge cuts, equating to 30% of all local government spending, other southern cities were less badly hit and also had more chances of increasing income through setting charges for services. Oxford and Luton saw an increase in spending.

Andrew Carter, Centre for Cities chief executive, said: “Cities drive the North West’s economy and, while austerity has improved local government efficiency, its sheer scale has placed public services in the North West’s cities under huge pressure. Cities Outlook 2019 shows that the cities most affected are economically weaker and have been less able to absorb the loss of central government funding.

“Councils have managed as best they can but the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue. There is a very real risk that many of our largest councils will in the near future become little more than social care providers. Fairer funding must mean more funding for cities in the North West.

“If, as the Prime Minister has said, austerity is coming to an end then the Spending Review must address the financial challenges facing the North West’s cities. But this does not just mean more money. Giving local authorities more power to decide how they raise and spend funds, providing more flexible multi-year budgets and reforming the way social care is paid for also need to be urgently introduced.”

Real-term fall in total local government spending 2009/10-2017/18
Britain rank (per head) Regional rank City Percentage change Change per head
1 1 Liverpool -32% -£816
6 2 Blackburn -27% -£542
18 3 Burnley -23% -£374
26 4 Wigan -19% -£306
24 5 Manchester -17% -£324
47 6 Birkenhead -9% -£162
52 7 Warrington -6% -£137
54 8 Preston -5% -£120
60 9 Blackpool -3% -£56
  Britain average -14% -£287


Your Comments

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Well who would have thought that?

By Emperor of the North

it would be interesting to see a corresponding graph for the years 1997- 2009 when certain Councils budgets in the north rose exponentially whilst those in the south were cut.

By euan

This is nothing new. And what the people of Liverpool have been needing all this time is increased business rates coming in, through the development of an economy that companies want to be part of.

Shouting at the government does nothing for Liverpool, because the government doesn’t care about Liverpool, and never will. Tory or Labour.

The difference between the past ten years and the ten years that came before it is that local government got on with the job of working around those constraints, forging alliances and changing the perception of our city for the better. Rather than just getting paid to shout, while complaining that council tax can’t be hiked (noting the extraordinary number of international flights purchased by this mere borough council).

Any increase in funding should go straight to city region level.

By Mike

Also ironic is the source of the report. Government must be confused by Centre for Citie: Is it worth spending money and “spreading jam” on Liverpool, or isn’t it?

Surely this tiny hamlet has all it needs already?

By Mike

Time for our leaders to spend less time moaning about our issues and ‘more time’ trying to sort them out…..in short, less talk more action, please!

By Liver Resident

So working the figures back Liverpool had significantly higher Ave spend than the rest

By Anon

Anon – Yes. Until austerity, Liverpool was long the beneficiary of well above average levels of support from both UK and EU funding. Whilst Manchester has been the notable beneficiary of a small number of high profile projects, the real £££ was generally flowing into Liverpool.

By Anon responder

Are we talking about Objective One funding here, because if it is then it was funded for a very good reason, was it not?

By Irritatingly true.

God that has shocked me. I believe Surrey got an increase in it’s money. The Tories look after the south. They even did when the North West was the wealthiest region on the planet. Unfortunately Labour look after the south too.

By Elephant

It’s justified, we can’t be living on handouts, it’s upto our towns and cities to raise our own funds, which is fair enough. London people can’t pay for it.


If that was true, then most of our cities and towns would find it hard to survie and then we can all go and live in London, wouldn’t that be great!

By meglamania

PDM is right. All money made in the North should stay in the North. No taxmoney or money transfers to head offices down south. Half of all military bases and military administration to be in the North. Half of all government employees to be in the North. Half of all tax money levied on Norherners to be spent in the North. Stop all that wealth being transferred to London. And a regional government for the North with government administration for the North placed in the North. Why is everything in the UK based in London?

By James Yates

London, benefits from the rest of the country, where all the money is made in factories,and other wealth making enterprises, the stock Exchange, all the civil service jobs which administer the country, hotels and the service industries benefit from the rest of the country having to go down to London for business and meetings and political matters,Travel and hospitality and on and on.. so we all depend on each other.

By Rosie York

Not sure about this CfC’s pointing this out, usually they try to undermind the LCR, wouldn’t trust them if you paid me.

By Pee wack

No one in goverment either Labour or Conservative Give a blind monkies about any City past Birmingham believe me HS2 will stop at Birmingham , dont be deluded .
Wake up North !!!!!

By Anonymous

I am glad to see birkenhead with its own statistics and not tied to the city of liverpool.

By Left side

@The left side Birkenhead is one of the most deprived areas in The Liverpool City Region and is now actually benefiting being part of it , Birkenhead has a wonderful platform of viewing the world famous ever increasing vibrant Skyline of Liverpool .
I would even question if your from LIverpools Left bank?

By Sam

What happened to the Northern Powerhouse the Tories keep shouting from the rooftops?

By Anonymous

Anonymous you are deluded if you think that they even care about Birmingham. I wouldn’t be surprised if this venture runs out of money around Milton Keynes, surprisingly just in the London commuter belt. So 200mph trains for London commuters whilst we use trains more suited to Albania.

By Elephant

Birkenhead is in desperate need of complete redevelopment and has suffered for the past decade due to the constant investment over the water.

Why would Wirral want to be part of the LCR? Wirral doesn’t get a fair share of the funding and will only subsidise further Liverpool city centre development. What makes you think LCR is going to do anything for Birkenhead? it wont, it will just sap more funds from Wirral for Liverpool.

Wirral and Liverpool are also completely different, with unique identities which locals want to keep on both sides of the Mersey. There’s no animosity between us but we both respect that we have unique identities, the only people who want the LCR are either deluded Councillors or people with some invested interest in an LCR for there own benefit. Maybe there should be a vote for local residents to opt in or out of LCR rather than allowing WBC corrupt councilors to make us art of something we don’t want!

By Stato

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