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Council invests £30m in key services and confirms no cuts to jobs or services

by Jonathan Kearney

At the Council meeting tonight, Members agreed there would be no cuts to jobs or services in 2023/2024, as well as agreeing a £30m investment package to maintain and improve essential help, support, services and facilities across the Borough.

This includes investment of £8.6m to improve the sustainability of the Knowsley Adult Social Care provider market. Importantly, this will mean that Adult Social Care providers must pay at least the Real Living Wage to care workers from 1 April 2023.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “It’s essential that we address the issue of pay levels for Knowsley care workers. Once again, we have had to step in where the Government has failed to support our social care system.

“Whilst the Government is not providing sufficient funding, a key priority for us is to ensure that our care workers are recognised and paid what they deserve. They are the backbone of our health and social care system and they provide invaluable support to thousands of residents.

“I’m delighted that our resolution has been agreed and that Adult Social Care providers must ensure that all of their Knowsley care workers receive at least the Real Living Wage from 1 April 2023.”

In addition to the £8.6m permanent investment in Adult Social Care, also endorsed tonight was:-

  • the permanent investment of £0.135m which will be invested into support for people with care experience – those young people (aged 18 to 25 years) who have been in the care of the Council and are now moving on to live independently. This support will include access to housing and transport.
  • the permanent investment of £10m for service demands, including care packages in Adult Social Care, Early Help and Children’s Social Care and Education and Inclusion services.

In addition, a number of one-off investments were approved to fund:-

  • Support to businesses to deliver vibrant town centres (£5.398m) – supporting the legacy of Knowsley’s Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture year with future events as well as acquisitions to support the Council’s ambitious development programme across the Borough.
  • Support to Knowsley residents and protecting vulnerable people (£2.060m) – continuation of the cost of living support provided to residents, capacity in the Family First Team to support early help and prevention work, extension of personal budgets for families to purchase their own short breaks offer, additional capacity in the Housing team to address homelessness and stronger communities funding to help to empower residents and groups.
  • Climate Change and environmental improvements (£0.042m) – including additional capacity to address mould and damp living conditions.

In addition, capital receipts generated from land disposals will be used to progress regeneration schemes such as:-

  • Car park provision
  • Halewood District Centre
  • Huyton Village Centre regeneration
  • Kirkby Cinema / Leisure complex
  • New Council headquarters
  • Prescot Shopping Centre
  • Prescot Picture House

To ensure essential services are unaffected, the Council will need to implement the Government’s assumption of an increase in Council Tax of 4.99% – of which 2% is for the Adult Social Care Precept. If the Council did not increase Council Tax by the maximum level, it would adversely affect central Government funding allocations to the Council. This equates to an additional £6.94 per month r a Band D property in the Borough.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “I am really pleased that we are able to report such a positive financial position which has been made possible thanks to our ambitious economic growth plans for the Borough, our robust financial management and decision-making which underpins our financial strategy.

“We know there are tough challenges ahead as the cost of living crisis continues, but we are in a much stronger position than other local authorities.

“The way Government funding works, unfortunately, leaves us with no alternative other than to increase Council Tax by the maximum level. If we don’t, it would impact on the funding they allocate to us, which would impact on the services and support we are able to deliver.  As part of this budget, we have a £5m cost of living support fund to directly help those residents most in need with food, fuel, essentials, housing support and debt advice.

“We will continue to engage with our communities to ensure the essential support and services they need and value continues to be available to them.”