Liverpudlians are drowning in debt. What’s going on?
‘Wherever you move, bills follow you eventually’
Dear members — a not-so-fun fact about Liverpool: did you know that Merseyside has the second-highest rates of insolvency in the country? In today’s sobering piece, Daniel Timms writes of this city “Every borough has rates above the national average – in Halton, it’s more than twice the national average.”
Besides this, we’ve got a taster of what to expect at the excellent Liverpool Literary Festival, which kicks off on Friday 6th October — if rapidfire mini-interviews about the twin joys of this city and the writing life are your bag, then scroll down.
Editor’s note: Debt is a huge problem but it’s one that people aren’t usually comfortable talking about and as such, it was difficult to find someone willing to open up about his painful experience. In today’s story, Daniel has also dug deep into the data so you can understand the nitty-gritty of debt in Liverpool. It would obviously be easier and less time-consuming to produce the sort of journalism published by other outlets: effectively regurgitating press releases. But we don’t think that’s the best way of serving this city. If you value the work we do, please sign up for a paid subscription today.
Your Post briefing
Local Liberal Democrat leader Carl Cashman has written to Sir Keir Starmer ahead of the Labour conference in Liverpool apologising for the poor state of “Litterpool”. “Sadly, our Labour-run council have given up on keeping Liverpool tidy,” he wrote, listing “towering weeds”, “overgrown grass verges” and “rampant fly-tipping” (“as a prosecutor, Sir Keir, would you be happy with one fixed penalty notice out of over 19,000 reports?”) among the issues apparently going ignored. He also called on Starmer to raise these concerns with council leader Liam Robinson when they next meet. Elsewhere in Liverpool Council beef, Cashman had already been at loggerheads with Labour early in the week, claiming that the council’s decision to bring back the city’s street scene and waste collection operation was a result of his party’s campaigning. Labour cabinet member Harry Doyle called him “bandwagon Carl” and Ruth Bennett — also a cabinet member — wrote: “Moves to Liverpool for six months. Points at a weed. Changes council policy 😂”. “First line is the only wrong part but other than that you’re spot on,” Cashman shot back.
Three Merseyside Police officers who exchanged “deeply offensive” messages about female colleagues, as well as racist messages about refugees, have been banned from policing. The officers in question — Connor O'Hare, Thomas Taylor and Bradley Johnson — had already resigned, but a misconduct hearing heard of “abhorrent and vile” comments made in a group chat called “Magaluf” over a five-month period. Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said the officers had “no place in policing” and said she hoped the public would recognise that the incident was not “reflective of the behaviours demonstrated by the majority of Merseyside officers”. However, the force has had numerous dismissals in recent months, including an officer banned for stalking in July, an officer banned for using racial slurs also in July and an officer found guilty of having sex with vulnerable women while on duty in September. Kennedy also apologised to the female colleagues of the three newly banned officers who were affected by the investigation. If you have first-hand experience of the current state of Merseyside police, Jack would be eager to talk to you for a story. Please contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s River of Light festival will commemorate the Eurovision Song Contest and the ties it forged between Liverpool and Ukraine. Three of the 12 installations will be Ukraine-themed, including one by Julio Himede, who also designed the Eurovision stage. Himede said “our monument is a tribute to the cultural phenomenon of Eurovision and an homage to the warm community of Liverpool.” The lights will be visible around the city from 27 October until 5 November with the theme United by Light.
By Daniel Timms
Before beginning our interview, I tell Lenny that he can choose to remain anonymous. I understand, I explain, that bankruptcy carries a lot of stigma.
He smiles. “I’m 50 on Saturday”, he tells me – old enough not to care what people think. He jokes that his only condition for talking to a journalist is that they don’t work for The Sun. So no, names have not been changed for this article.
Lenny Stone, now 50, has an autobiography so colourful and varied, he struggles to remember it at points. “That’s when I was living in Somerset… no, Cheltenham? No…” In ten years in the army he visited more places than many people do in a lifetime. “Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize, Cambridge, Chepstow; Northern Ireland twice, Washington state… I can’t remember where else. Kenya twice.”
My journey to speaking to Lenny began with a spreadsheet. Scanning government data on individual insolvencies, I noticed that Merseyside has the second highest rate of people becoming insolvent in the country. 2022 was the worst year on record: over three in every thousand adults ended up insolvent in that year alone. Every borough has rates above the national average – in Halton, it’s more than twice the national average.
Why, I wanted to know, were things so bad? And what happens to those who go through this process?