HALF Liverpool’s libraries are to close and services to the most vulnerable will be slashed under the latest round of cuts.
£1m of funding for the warden service for sheltered accommodation will be withdrawn and the youth and play service budget will eventually drop by a third from £3.2m to £2.1m.
Ceasing the council’s role in delivering Truancy Watch from April 2014 will save £132,000, and introducing charges for community alarms at sheltered housing will save a further £500,000 per year.
Around 400 workers will be affected, but how many face redundancy is not yet known.
The Labour-run council insists it has no choice due to a huge reduction in government grants – it needs to save £32m from its budget for the financial year starting in April.
Council tax will also increase by 1.8% from April.
The council will reject a government grant worth £1.6m to freeze the tax. Increasing the tax will generate £2m instead. It equates to a £15.70 annual increase for band A homes, and £23.55 for band Ds.
The additional £400,000 will finance a hardship fund.
Mayor Joe Anderson said: “This has been a horrendous process, we have had to make some extremely difficult and hard choices in order to balance the books for the next year.”
At the weekend he had a sensational email row with Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp about leaks surrounding the cuts.
Today Cllr Kemp said: “The council needs to be asking some fundamental questions before the next tranche of cuts.”
Liverpool has 19 libraries at present, but the council thinks it can save around £938,000 (from April 2014) by closing around 10.
It is examining plans to keep a seven-day service at Central Library and at two community libraries (one in the north and another in the south).
It will also have a cluster of smaller libraries, of around six, open shorter hours.