As you will know, it is budget time in Liverpool. We've been arguing for an inflationary increase in council tax for years in Liverpool, to stop the erosion of the real value of the council tax take, and to protect against the cuts that were going to come from central government. At first, the Labour administration ignored this, but they have accepted now the need for the maximum possible without a referendum. As in Brighton and Hove, we are trying to shift them beyond that position, and to support an actual council tax increase.
No one wants to see council tax go up, but the alternative is the awful closures that the Liverpool Echo covered yesterday. We don't blame the Labour council for the cuts. This falls squarely at the door of the Liberal Democrats and Tories in Westminster, but they do have choices, and we are challenging them because they are not doing everything they can to save these services. With Labour and the Greens in Liverpool arguing in favour in a referendum campaign, I believe we can get majority support from people in Liverpool.
Even if Labour refuse to countenance a referendum, they ought to meet their pledge to look at a councillor reduction. Mayor Joe Anderson promised to look at this but it has been kicked into the long grass by the administration. On this point, we could have quick, brave and decisive action that will deliver real savings. If this was to be repeated by councils around Merseyside, then it would free up over £1 million to spend on protecting services and supporting those in hardship, and I call on council leaders in Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral and Halton to also reduce their councillor numbers by a third.
Our press release and our budget amendments are listed below.
Liverpool Greens Propose 3 Budget Amendments
The Green group on the council will argue in favour of a 5% increase in council tax as the best way to save Liverpool’s adult day centres this week. They are also proposing that the number of city councillors is reduced from 90 down to 60, to raise £340,000 to support households in hardship. 
Cllr John Coyne, Green Group leader said:
“We have to do everything we can to resist the austerity being imposed on Liverpool by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at Westminster. We represent a proud city that has historically stood up for what is right. The Greens believe the people in Liverpool should be able to decide on whether to save adult day centres in a local referendum.”
“It is also time for the Mayor to recognise that keeping 90 councillors in our city is unsustainable in a city where far too many good council employees have lost their jobs. We propose reducing the number of city councillors down to 60, with the £340,000 saved being used to support those in most hardship in our city. If Edinburgh gets by with 58 councillors, Liverpool can manage with 60.”
A report by the Greens released today, shows that a similar reduction in other councils around Merseyside could redirect more than £1 million away from councillor allowances, to provide additional hardship funds or to protect local services.
Peter Cranie, Euro-MP candidate for the Greens, added:
“If you ask most people, they would rather see more money spent on services and less spent on councillors. While most local councillors do a good job representing their communities, we are asking all of the Labour-led councils around Merseyside to look at reducing their total number of councillors, because we believe helping and supporting the most vulnerable has to take priority.”
The potential savings from local councils are identified as follows:
Available redirected funds
 Green budget amendments listed below
 Please see attached tabulated report with referencing on councillor allowances
Recognising the likelihood of increasing unmet demand from people suffering hardship, particularly from the "bedroom tax" and from the reduction in council tax support, the Citizens' Support Scheme should be increased by £340k for 2015/16 and 2016/17.
That provision should be funded by a reduction, from 2015/16, in the budget for the basic allowances for the 90 councillors. The City Council should request the Boundary Commission to complete a review of the number of councillors with the expectation of a reduction from 90 to 60. If that reduction in number is not achieved then there should be a reduction in councillors' and/or mayor's allowances equivalent to one third in the basic allowance for the 90, after hearing a report from the Independent Panel on the apportionment of a reduction in this budget line.
Two smaller savings should also be used to increase the size of the Citizens' Support Scheme.
Save at least £30,000 p.a. by removing the right of councillors to have free car parking and by removing the right of councillors to reclaim mileage or any travel expenses incurred within the city boundary. Councillors would, instead, absorb those travel costs from within their basic allowances.
Council gives up its policy of refusing to allow mobile phone antennae on council-owned buildings, except for school buildings. That policy, having been ineffective in preventing the spread of mobile telephony, serves no purpose other than sometimes to displace antennae onto less suitable locations. Potential income from rental of council-owned antennae sites is hard to estimate but may be of the order of £25,000 p.a.
There are two revenue lines allocated for direction by councillors and by the Mayor for optional, discretionary projects - Mayoral Neighbourhood Fund £1.24m and Leader's Fund £1m. Those funds should be reduced to £404k and £202k, representing a reduction to approximately one third and one fifth of their budgets, respectively. Those levels should be maintained for 2015/16 and 2016/17.
The consequent saving of £1.634m should be used to stop any library closures in Liverpool.
We believe that any incoming government in May 2015 should restore and provide proper funding for local authorities and it is right to consider the use of reserves to save services now and to have those reserves replenished when a more compassionate government is in office.
However there is doubt that any of the major parties are going to be willing to do that, although they should indeed be pressed to move away from austerity spending plans. We therefore propose to use reserves in 2014/15 and to provide for their replenishment by future council tax increases in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Since the budget for 2010/11 we have seen Council Tax rise once only by 1.75% while inflation has risen by 4.5%, 2.8% and 2.6%, using the conservative CPI measure of inflation. In real terms, then, Council Tax has fallen by 8.5%. That loss of spending power is equivalent to £10.16m p.a.
Any catch-up rise in Council Tax, above 1.99% would require a referendum. A catch-up of 8.5% would be hard to win in a referendum and a more modest rise of 5% would be more reasonable. We believe that a campaign to save services in social care, paid for by a 5% tax rise would be politically achievable, given the political will. A successful referendum would also show the government that the people of Liverpool stand together against the extent of the government's cuts.
We propose that Council Tax should be raised by 5% for 2014/15 and by 1.99% for 2015/16 and 2016/17. The additional revenue raised, spread across the three years is approximately £4.5m p.a.
Part of the additional revenue in the first year would be applied to pay for the costs of the referendum, £80k. Part of that revenue in the first year should be ear-marked as reserves to top-up the Citizens' Support Scheme - £ 1.843m.
Part of that revenue, £1.543 in 2015/16 and 2015/17, should be used to reverse budget option ASC&H 11: the adult day centre hubs should not be closed.
A further part of that revenue, £380k, should be used to improve the Council Tax Support Scheme so that, from 2015/16 onwards people within that scheme have to pay only 7.5% of their Council Tax bill rather than the current 8.5%, helping to insulate them from the effects of Council Tax increases.
The remainder of that revenue, approx £2.577m p.a., should be used to respond to requests to save other services by reversing or mitigating some of the other service cuts in the Proposed Budget Options.
If the referendum does not succeed, the impact on net revenue, spread across the three years, is neutral apart from the one-off costs of the referendum of £80k and re-billing £150k. Those costs would be met by a one off reduction in councillors' and/or mayor's allowances, after hearing a report from the Independent Panel on the apportionment of a reduction of £230k.