New report shows Liverpool City Council is putting its financial house in order

Update on Council’s approach to recouping outstanding debt

A financial update to the next meeting of the Cabinet will show that Liverpool City Council is making significant progress in recovering owed income and managing its finances, as part of its improvement journey, in what are increasingly challenging times for all local authorities. 

A huge transformation programme to review systems and processes is under way to make sure the Council is as efficient and productive as it can be. This includes ensuring money owed is paid when it is due, such as by moving payments online and streamlining systems so payments can be made at the point of purchase.

Recent successes include: 

  • Clearing a backlog of invoices for temporary traffic regulation orders – bringing in an additional £330k year-on-year 
  • Increasing revenue from skip hire by £36,000   
  • Upping income from hoarding and scaffolding hire eleven-fold over the last six months 
  • Reducing the payment time for school absence fines from 21 days to five days through changes to the process 
  • Recovering almost £1.5 million owed by cruise operators using the Cruise Terminal 
  • the city has also recovered more than £6 million in outstanding debt from schools and academies  

Last year, the Council wrote to 92,000 households who receive a Single Person Discount, which entitled them to 25 per cent off their Council Tax bill, to check if they were still eligible. This has resulted in 1,600 households cancelling their discount – generating an additional £760k per financial year.

The report also highlights that the Council forecasts that it will be able to manage its overspend for 2023/24 at £17.6 million thanks to a series of spending controls such as managing vacancies and strengthening contract and procurement management. The overspend is largely due to demand pressures in adults and children’s services, as well as special educational need transport and emergency homelessness accommodation, pressures all local authorities face due to the cost of living crisis. Directorate spending controls are expected to reduce the overspend of £17.6m by the financial year end including at least £6.5m use of service-related reserves, which have been subject to ongoing review and are either being applied to reduce requirements on revenue budgets or removed altogether as no longer required.  

An in-year review of fees and charges has also taken place, which sees some rises in fees benchmarked against other local authorities or which have risen in line with inflation. This has the impact of generating more income for the Council.  

Councillor Ruth Bennett, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “At a time when our finances are under a great deal of pressure, it is absolutely vital that we recover money owed to us in a timely manner. 

“The changes we are making to our systems and processes is starting to make a real difference to our finances. We are rolling out new methods enabling businesses and individuals to pay us quickly and easily, which is more convenient for them and is less time consuming for our staff. It is all part of our improvement journey and is vital to us becoming an organisation that provides efficient services which are value for money. 

“In maximising our income, it is also important that we review our fees and charges on a regular basis to benchmark ourselves against other local authorities, and to make sure that people who are receiving discounts on the likes of Council Tax is completely up-to-date. 

“There is no doubt that the changes we have been making over the last six months have put us on a firmer financial footing as we prepare to set our budget for 2024/25.”  

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