Probably the last entry before Christmas . I'm in the office tomorrow, mainly to meet Tony Lloyd MP and Graham Stringer MP to discuss what we can do about Manchester's dreadful, and according to the Manchester Evening News, totally unfair financial settlement.
Then I'll take a break until after the new year, building up strength for what will be a very difficult couple of months. But anyway, before I continue can I wish all my readers, regular and irregular, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The financial settlement dominates today as well. Comments on earlier entries have rightly raised the uncertainty created for all Council staff and service users. We aim to eliminate that uncertainty as quickly as possible but can't do it over night. In the meantime I and my colleagues are appreciative that the fast majority of Council staff continue to show real determination to do their best for the city and its people. Myself and the Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources met with the Trades Union Forum this morning to set out just how bad the settlement is for Manchester, the scale of cuts we are now looking at, and to set out the timetable and process for dealing with them. The Council's budget fixing Council is on March 8th. Before that the proposed budget has to go through scrutiny and we are aiming for a draft budget by the end of January. The severity of the cuts means there can be no sacred cows as we explore all options available big and small. At the same time we don't want to set hares running that will cause even more unnecessary uncertainty and we don't want to make decisions now that balance the budget but in the long term are bad for the city as a whole. As proposals firm up we want to be as open as possible before those proposals become set in stone. A difficult balance to strike but we'll do our best.
The Executive meets this morning with the agenda dominated by the settlement and the prospects for next year's budget. We agree to make representations to government on the basis that the cuts are too fast and too deep, that local government is having to take too big a share, that the frontloading of cuts makes delivery even more difficult to achieve in a cost effective way, that a one year only transitional payment is not sufficient to manage the scale of the cuts, and that the redistribution of £30m per annum grant money away from Manchester to more affluent areas largely in the South is patently unfair.