Government to take full control of ‘failing’ Liverpool City Council

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Ministers will take control of governance, recruitment and finances with debts of almost £100m projected for 2025.

The Government has taken the decision to step in and take effective full control of Liverpool City Council, following the publication of a second commissioners’ report into the local authority.

Written in June 2022 and released today, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recommended that the Government takes over all financial, governance and recruitment power held by LCC.

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The council has been under close scrutiny from commissioners since the first damning report was published last year.

The report states: “We are not confident that the Council can progress on this journey without immediate further intervention” and estimates a stark funding gap of £98.2million at the council.

Why is the government stepping in?

Last year, the government appointed commissioners to oversee the council, following investigations into the previous Mayor, Joe Anderson and his involvement in building contracts.

Since then, Liverpool City Council failed to renew their energy contracts, costing the authority an estimated £10m and impacting the energy costs of local schools and the fire service.

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The Commissioners team, made up of Mike Cunningham, Joanna Killian, Neil Gibson and Deborah McLaughlin, now believe it is time for the government to take further action, arguing that the council is ‘failing’.

What’s been said?

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has also announced the formation of a strategic advisory panel, aiming to develop a long-term plan to guide Liverpool Council out of the government intervention.

The panel will be chaired by Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram and supported by political and business leaders.

In response, Mayor Joanne Anderson, said: “Naturally, I am extremely disappointed with today’s report.

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“A huge amount of work has been taking place over the last 12 months to change the systems, processes and culture of the organisation.

“It is not an overnight fix, and the report is no reflection on the hard work and teams and individuals across the organisation.

“This report dates from June, and since then there has been further progress, particularly around the management of, and commissioning of, contracts.”

Mike CunninghamMike Cunningham
Mike Cunningham

Lead Commissioner Mike Cunningham did mention the date of the report. He said: “We want to highlight that Commissioners submitted the report in June, so findings are now several weeks old. However, we stand by the key themes for improvement set out in the report.

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“The report is clear that not enough progress has been made at Liverpool City Council over the past year. It outlines the barriers to improvement we believe the Council has faced and makes clear what must happen for the Council to make progress.

“The developments currently happening at the core of the Council, such as changes in leadership, are necessary to Liverpool City Council’s improvement. They are a positive sign that the Council is now embarking on the right path for success.”

It is hoped that Liverpool City Council will make enough progress to not need intervention, in two years’ time.

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