The Government is to take further control of Liverpool away from the city council following a damning report into the running of the authority which found a budget gap of close to £100m over four years.
Leveling Up Secretary Greg Clark is set to appoint a steering committee including Liverpool Metro mayor Steve Rotheram, former chief executive of Manchester City Council Sir Howard Bernstein and former leader of Leeds City Council Baroness Judith Blake.
They would work with Mayor Joanne Anderson, as well as four commissioners originally appointed last June, to work with the council and improve it.
The commissioners gave a report to Mr Clark in June this year, who found several faults with the authority.
It noted shortcomings in finances, workforce capacity and capability, decision-making, risk management and leadership – ultimately stating that the council failed to meet “its statutory duty to provide best value”.
The commissioners, Mike Cunningham, Joanna Killian, Neil Gibson and Deborah McLaughlin, recommended the government take action.
They noted: “The services that support the running and management of the council have been eroded over the past decade, in particular: finance, procurement and audit.”
The report added that “people do not feel responsible for managing public money” as it highlighted the £98.2m budget deficit.
Mr Clark has written to the council saying he intends to take a number of steps, including appointing an additional commissioner with financial expertise to help run the council’s money affairs.
He also wants to entrust the recruitment of senior staff to the commissioners, as well as decisions about management and scrutiny of strategic decisions.
These powers will last until June 2024.
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Members of Liverpool City Council have until 2 September to contact the Minister to argue whether or not the measures should be introduced.
The steering committee will sit with the city’s mayor and commissioners to “help the council make the right decisions and develop a plan to provide long-term confidence in the city’s future”.
Clarke said: “I am determined to help do everything I can to help Liverpool emerge stronger from the current intervention and able to achieve their ambitions.
“The commissioner’s report shows that there are still serious deficiencies that need to be addressed, especially in financial management.
“But I want this to be a turning point where the city of Liverpool can see a bright future that lives up to the power this great city embodies.
“So following conversations I had personally in Liverpool with Mayor Joanne Anderson and Mayor Steve Rotheram in recent weeks, I am appointing a new panel, chaired by the same Mayor Rotheram and supported by some of the wisest and most experienced people in the city’s leadership. , for to lead this transition from current interventions to a successful future.”
Anderson said: “Further government intervention will not solve the problems facing Liverpool City Council – these are common problems experienced across local authorities.
“That’s why I accept the problems, but I question the solution.”