Government to take greater control of Liverpool city council

Intervention expanded to include financial decisions and governance after report calls for urgent reform

The government’s intervention in the running of Liverpool city council is to be expanded to include governance and financial decision-making.

It comes after the publication of another critical report on the local authority by four commissioners appointed last year to work with the council staff in key areas after an inspection.

The report, published on Friday and addressed to the communities secretary, Greg Clark, said certain services were “failing” and in need of “urgent reform”.

It warns that poor performance in procurement, finance and auditing are limiting the “council’s ability to operate at a crucial time” and called for an added role of “finance commissioner”.

It comes after a report in June revealed that Liverpool city council’s failure to renew contracts across a number of services could cost it millions.

Clark, in a letter to the commissioners, raises concerns about the financial situation facing the council. “I agree with your assessment that the council continues to fail in its best value duty and, therefore, I am minded to expand the intervention.”

But the government intervention has been questioned by the Liverpool city mayor, Joanne Anderson, who tweeted: “Further government intervention will not solve the issues facing Liverpool city council – these are common issues being experienced right across local government.

“Therefore, I accept the problems, but I question the solution.”

While she thanked the commissioners, as well as the secretary of state, she said: “While I recognise that there are gaps in our workforce capacity and capability, this is not unique to Liverpool.

“The UK is facing stark skills shortages, and it [is] widely known that local councils are struggling to improve capacity in key areas, which is making us dependent on interim staff that cost more in the short term.”

One key reform is expected to be the creation of a Liverpool strategic futures advisory panel, chaired by the mayor of Liverpool city region, Steve Rotheram, and including Judith Blake, the former leader of Leeds city council, as well as Sir Howard Bernstein, the former chief executive of Manchester city council.

Rotheram denied any suggestions that the panel had been created to run the council. He tweeted: “The panel is here to work with the mayor and council not to run it. We are not taking control of day-to-day statutory services. We will advise and offer support in setting strategic longer-term plans and priorities.”

PA Media contributed to this report


Nadeem Badshah and agency

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