Manchester City Council

More Questions than Answers

Sorry I’m a bit behind with posts but have been pre-occupied with doing the Council’s budget rather than writing about it. Know there’s been lots of questions so hope the following helps.

Q. Is it possible to lose 2,000 staff voluntarily?

We believe it is achievable to keep to our commitment of no compulsory redundancies. In the past Manchester City Council has had to reduce its workforce quite significantly and we've always done it without the need for compulsory redundancies.

But it's not going to be easy. So although we hope to keep to the commitment, it is dependent on how many people take up the offer.

Q. Will there be any more job cuts after these?

This will be a one-off offer of voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement. We will not be revisiting the offer or improving on it.

We don't expect there'll be any need for more job cuts for the foreseeable future based on current budget assumptions.

Q. If we need to save money, can't we cancel the £138m revamp of the Town Hall Extension and Central Library, or the planned Metrolink extension?

The redevelopment of the Town Hall Extension and the Central Library are well under way and too far advanced to cancel. The redevelopment is also about maintaining Manchester 's heritage and building on it as we look to the future. Central Library is one of the most important buildings in the city, needed significant work done to it, and would have had to close permanently if we hadn't acted. The building work has also given us the opportunity to transform the services we provide. When the Extension reopens, it will have in place a brand new customer service centre that will allow us to give speedy, effective and efficient service to Manchester people, improving on what is already being delivered at our new customer service centre in Number One First Street . We will also be able to locate staff at the Extension rather than at rented locations dotted across the city - which saves money. All the Metrolink extensions are contractually committed and are essential to the future economic health of the city. As well as delivering services today we need to continue investing in the city's future

Q. Will senior figures such as the Chief Executive or senior managers be taking pay cuts to help us make the savings?

We need our staff to stay motivated and to work even more effectively and we don't think that the way to do that in these difficult times is to cut people's pay. Singling out individuals for pay is a red herring and a distraction from the scale and severity of the council cuts. Even if they were paid nothing it would barely make a dent in the cuts total.

Q. Will jobs like the Twitter Tsar go before social workers?

We don't have a Twitter Tsar, have never had a Twitter Tsar and have never had or advertised a job that could be interpreted as a Twitter Tsar. We are absolutely committed to doing all we can to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our great city get the best quality services to protect and support them. The scale and severity of the £110m government cuts will have a serious impact on the services we provide. We aren't willing to provide a series of mediocre services or ones that won't deliver. That means we are going to have to make difficult decisions about what we do or do not provide, but at the same time ensuring we continue to grow the economy of the city, create jobs and get Manchester people into those jobs and we need a lot more than simply compensating for the jobs being lost in the public sector.

But the most vulnerable - the most in need - are top of our list.

Q. Will council tax be increasing to help make the required savings?

No. Over the past 10 years council tax increases in Manchester have been either at or below the rate of inflation. It means that we now have the third lowest council tax rate in the country.  Next year, the council's element of the council tax bill will be frozen - as it was last year. We know how hard things are for Manchester people at the moment and this is one way we can help.  Increasing council tax by 1% generates just £1.3m in revenue for the council - which is barely 1% of the savings we need to make next year alone.  

Q. Will the provision of front-line services like schools, children and vulnerable adult services, waste collection, homelessness, benefits etc be affected?

The scale of the cuts means that there will be very few services unaffected  

Q. What about BMX Centre, Football Museum , etc (current projects) - will these be still going ahead?

These schemes are currently underway, are contractually committed and have money coming from a range of sources, not just the Council. As well as being very important facilities for the people of Manchester , they also drive economic growth. For example, the National Football Museum is expected to attract 350,000 visitors a year when it opens at Urbis. Those people will come from far and wide and will spend money in the city while they're here - helping our economy and keeping people in work.  

Q: Why are these cuts being made?

We have no choice. The government has imposed cuts of £110m in the next year. We always knew we would have to make cuts because of the national budget deficit, but no-one could have anticipated that Manchester would face the scale, speed or severity of these cuts.  

Q: Why do you keep saying that Manchester 's been treated unfairly?

Not only have the cuts been "frontloaded" - in other words the majority of the cuts over the next four years need to made in the first year - but money has been diverted away from Manchester to other - more affluent - parts of the country. An example of this is the "Supporting People" grant. This was money Manchester received every year to help some of the neediest in our society. It helped older people stay at home rather than go into hospital, it helped families stay together, it helped make our communities safer. We've received a cut of 35% to that grant next year - that's £12.5m, while other, more affluent parts of the country are actually getting more money.  

Q: Why is the Council full of so many non-jobs with silly titles, such as "diversity officers"?

It isn't. The Council does not have lots of people sitting around doing nothing, nor jobs that are meaningless. We don't have any "diversity officers". That doesn't mean we don't work with our diverse communities to ensure we are delivering the best possible service - whether they are old, young, black, white, gay, straight, disabled or able-bodied. We do, and we should.

The staff of your Council is made up of people who are dedicated, who care about your city. They're the people who keep our parks in good order, the people who keep our streets clean, the people who step in when youngsters are being abused, who make sure that older people don't freeze to death in winter - as well as the people behind the scenes who help those people do their job.

Q: Why does the chief executive get paid more than the prime minister?

Manchester 's chief executive in fact does not get paid more than the prime minister. This is a myth that is perpetuated by some parts of the press. The prime minister's basic salary is £142,000 - which is indeed less than our chief executive's total remuneration package. But our chief executive doesn't have a home in the centre of London or a country home paid for by the tax payer, as the prime minister does, he doesn't have a driver on call 24 hours a day, as the PM also has. In fact, the prime minister's package is estimated to be worth more than £600k - that's three times what our chief executive is paid. In any case the real comparison with the PM should be with the Leader of the Council who receives barely a third of the PM's basic

Interestingly, the government recently commissioned research which suggested that the highest paid person in any public sector organisation should not be paid more than 20 times more than the lowest paid worker. That is the case in Manchester .  Manchester City Council has driven a fair deal for pay for Mancunians - from the lowest paid worker to the top. That's why we introduced our Manchester Minimum Wage, which is higher than the national minimum wage.   The Chief exec salary in Manchester is lower than many other local authority bosses and significantly under the going rate for chief executives in the private sector.  

Q: Bernstein and Leese do the same job. Why have both?

Our chief executive is appointed by the elected members of the council to ensure it is run in a smooth, effective and efficient way. Sir Richard Leese is an elected member of the council who is put there by the voters of Crumpsall and is, along with the rest of the elected members, responsible for the budget and overall policy of the Council. As Leader he is also responsible for the Executive decisions of the Council and holding the Chief Executive to account for their delivery. Their roles are different - in a similar way to the way in which businesses have a chief executive and chairman with distinct but complementary roles, or in national government it's like the difference between a Cabinet Minister ( elected ) and a Permanent Secretary ( Civil Servant ).  

Q: We need to have a debate about what services people want.

Manchester residents were given the opportunity to let us know what they think about our spending priorities during a recent consultation. More than 2,000 residents told us what they thought and will be instrumental in helping us prioritise spending for the coming years.

We will be publishing our budget proposals in detail on February 8th and there will be a two week opportunity to question and comment on those proposals.

Q: Why don't we sell Manchester Airport as that would get us loads of money?

Manchester Airport is part-owned by Manchester City Council and is incredibly successful. The Manchester Airport Group continues to grow. Every year we receive a significant dividend that is reinvested in delivering front line services to the most needy. It would not make financial sense to sell the airport for a one off fee - particularly in these uncertain economic times when we wouldn't see the maximum return for it's value.

Q: If the Council has to make cuts of £110m, why not use the massive war chest of reserves?

We don't have a massive war chest of reserves - that's another myth. We are sensible with what we keep aside for a rainy day and it is about £20m. This is exactly what our auditort tells us we should have in the bank. There was more money in the reserves - about £80m - all allocated for specific purposes. We will now use some of that money to pay for the voluntary severance and early retirement package that we have announced and borrow for building work we can't cancel.

So we don't have huge reserves, and anything we have set aside will be spent. Once you have spent that money, it's gone. The cuts on the other hand are for good.  

Q: Doesn't the council do a lot of stuff that's just not important or necessary - look at the money that's wasted on Christmas or things like Manchester Day.

As well as protecting the most vulnerable people in our society, we also have to do all we can to help Manchester grow and support the local economy. We have 1.3m people visiting Manchester each Christmas for the Christmas markets. If we didn't have the markets those people would not come. Independent research shows that it generates an economic benefit to the city of £50m. Similarly, last year we spent £250k on Manchester Day, but it generated an economic benefit to the city of £4.1m.

World-class events like Manchester International Festival, which pumped £35.7m into the city, have raised the Manchester 's profile phenomenally, safeguarding jobs and benefiting the economy. Holding political conferences in the city means that our influence spreads and grows but we also attract visitors who stay and eat and travel around our city spending money, supporting jobs and helping the economy to grow.  

While we want people to have a good time at the events we hold, the main reason we do them is for the economic benefit of the city. That means jobs.

There are 61 responses to “More Questions than Answers”

  1. ice Says:

    I think it just seems to be a an accepted phenomenon that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer! A cut on high paid workers would not be as detrimental compared to those who are just merely making ends meet at the lower end of the scale. For someone to say that it wouldn't make much of a difference clearly shows the attitude. We could talk the sanme way about climate change but then that would be quite foolish!

  2. steam Says:

    Ice, I think the point he is making is that cutting the pay of high paid workers wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. They keep on talking about cutting Bernstein's salary. No matter what you think of the man, you can't deny he's done good for the city and the way people talk about him is pretty insulting to us all. If you cut his wages by £100k as the Lib Dem's masters the Tories keep on saying, it would pay for 0.09% of the money that the Lib Dems and Tories have taken off us.

    The jokers that are the Lib Dems in the council were in the paper today saying that everyone should take a pay cut of 5% - so they want the rich to get poorer, and the poor to get poorer. Roll on May.

  3. Coulrophobia Says:

    So finally the great leader breaks cover. Yet again though we here more detail from local radio over the course of the day until Sir Howard sends a broadcast email out at ten past four, still I suppose its better than 10 o'clock. in Sir Howards email he says the unions says "we have been working closely with the trade unions" may this O/one ask how? where?When?which union/s? my union and 2 others called for an urgent meeting after managers decided to spread the word on VER and VS. why? because on 4th january Sir Howard briefed 200 senior managers in the great hall on the details of the Councils scheme, if teh unions had been involved in the preparation of that scheme why did they demand a meeting with Sir Howard and Sir Richard? transparency? if looks opaque and you cant see through it it isn't transparent.

    Many people have made good points in the previous thread, none of which have been answered. Strange that.

    So to go over this entry in the leaders blog of transparent truth -
    Q. If we need to save money, can't we cancel the £138m revamp of the Town Hall Extension and Central Library, or the planned Metrolink extension? so with many staff now in First street spending £138 M on the Clown hall is money well spent, and it will have a brand customer service centre. Awesome.
    Q. Will senior figures such as the Chief Executive or senior managers be taking pay cuts to help us make the savings? so you need to keep your staff motivated? is that the survivors only?

    Q. Will jobs like the Twitter Tsar go before social workers? what about the dept for transformation seemingly imune from these cuts. Or maybe the communications dept who have in this case alone failed miserably.

    Q. What about BMX Centre, Football Museum , etc (current projects) - will these be still going ahead? they drive economic growth and bring people into the city helping to keep people in work.... Er....

    Q: Why are these cuts being made? to protect the money needed to rebuild the Clown hall, oh and just maybe to boost Labours chances at the next election "look how bad it is, see how protected some of you, it could get worse you know....

    Q: Why does the chief executive get paid more than the prime minister? well dodged Sir Richard, you could have had a career in politics, what about Zero tolerance Zsar?

    Q: Bernstein and Leese do the same job. Why have both? Team work is good, it spreads the blame. one was appointed by Sir Richard, one was returned unopposed in a leadership election.

    Q: Why don't we sell Manchester Airport as that would get us loads of money? A corker, keep Manchester airport, but sell one of the others that the airport group owns. As suggested in the previous blog.

    Q: Doesn't the council do a lot of stuff that's just not important or necessary - look at the money that's wasted on Christmas or things like Manchester Day. They bring in trade for private companies, cool, so we are being sacrificed by a socialist council to feed private greed. I understand now. a figure of £300k has been mentioned for this years Manchester Q: Doesn't the council do a lot of stuff that's just not important or necessary - look at the money that's wasted on Christmas or things like Manchester Day, in the present climate no doubt money well spent, are corporate communications involved in it? will the dept for transformation have a float?

    Other respondents, far more literate than I have suggested other possible avenues in the previous blog, have any of them been explored? if so in what depth? This has echos of the transport consultation "there is no plan B" what was the old NUM saying in the coal not dole days? oh yes 'A closed mind closes mines'

    Keep up the good work Sir Howard, Sir Richard, the City needs you.

    Most of the hard working, loyal and committed employess could get by without you though.

  4. OldFella Says:

    On your last point Sir Richard even I have had a conversion. I know that having the Tories hold their Conference in Manchester somehow seems ridiculous even galling, and there will inevitably be some angry protests in the streets outside the 'wall of steel'. My rethink is along two lines. First is democracy and discrimination. It is simply not acceptable to say that people of a main stream political party, especially when they are the Government, are not welcome in Manchester. Does that extend to not having Conservative Clubs, or even LibDem party offices any longer in Manchester?

    Next, in terms of advertising and building on the good reputation and wealth of the City, I for one have been very proud every time a party chooses Manchester as it's conference venue, and not somewhere else. It'd be great to have all the main parties come here. Yes, there's some cost to the City coffers and Police I expect, but there is also big financial reward as Manchester gains in many ways, and long after these conferences end, by encouraging others to come to Manchester to use our fantastic facilities or just to visit us, to boost our local economy, and which also creates jobs. So I welcome the Tory Conference, and the kudos that it brings us, as bitter a pill to swallow as it will be in view of these cuts.

    The very last thing Manchester needs any time soon is to have the world get a negative image of our City when the Tory Conference arrives. For that reason I hope those organisations orchestrating demonstrations will do so with peaceful intentions - longer term it's OUR City that will be left damaged and nursing wounds, not the Government, if there's any real trouble. Just my opinion.

  5. Nick Says:

    Is there a possibility of of sponsorship deal with the co op or manchester city football club to keep more of our services going

  6. Realist Says:

    @Ice
    You only have to look at today's Personnel Committee
    http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/1525/personnel_committee
    you will see proposals to make over £1m of savings in Neighbourhood Services senior management. The Director of Childrens Services has taken early retirement. I am sure other Directorates will downsize their management.
    @ Sir Richard
    Thank-you for answering the questions posed over last few weeks.
    I agree with you that the major programmes around the Town Hall and Central Library, Urbis etc should continue.
    These are prestige programmes that will also save money.
    If there are 2000 people who want to go, snap there hands off. Any organisation only wants people who want to work for them. The next few years delivering the required changes to organisation, processes and systems to esnure the organisation still functions will be challenging but definitely rewarding and exciting.
    Internally there is more concern about employees than Manchesters residents.

    Q. Will the provision of front-line services like schools, children and vulnerable adult services, waste collection, homelessness, benefits etc be affected?

    All these services can be make savings without cutting front line services and affecting Customers.
    In some case Customer Service can be improved.

    Keep working hard and stop blaming the coalition.
    Lets get on with and all pull together.

  7. NW Says:

    I hope for all the Council workers in Manchester your right when you say you can make the cuts without compulsory redundancy. Its just a shame you & H Bernstein didn't try harder to do the same in your role as Chair of 4NW. Some of us got re-deployments to St Helen's Council, but others are still looking for work four months on from being made redundant...

  8. N.Khan Says:

    I totally agree with what ICE has said,people that are struggling to make ends meet are allways the ones that are most hit by any cuts,redundacies ETC..

  9. Martin Says:

    So where is money going to come from for the urgent improvements needed on council properties in Collyhurst area that local councillors promised would be found at a meeting in early December. A lot of this accommodation (including mine) does not meet basic minimum standards as it has been totally neglected by the council who dilly dallied before submitting the plans for a PFI so as it was not pushed through in time before general election.

  10. Lad Says:

    I really don't envy your job. May you have the strength and wisdom you need to carry through this unenviable but essential task

  11. Bill Says:

    TBH as a council taxpayer I am glad this is going through. For too long under the last government you have got away with wasting peoples money. I know that the communities minister is correct when he said you lot were living in a bubble. I know of departments in the council that have more layers of management than a asda cake. Whats worse is that you could do the job with half them, but guess what your yone in your blog says it all. You'll get rid of the low paid workers well before any managers go. BTW just tell us again who decides were the cuts will be again O thats right Managers....No wonder the Government are totally suprised your going to get rid of front line staff. Once again its the poor bloody low workers who will suffer.

  12. martin Says:

    Mr Leese and Mr Bernstein, you have let the City down. These cuts should have been anticipated a long time ago - at least at the time of Northern Rock and the Banking crisis in 2007/2008. The cuts would have happened even if Labour had won the election. You should have started to reduce expenditure much earlier. This would avoided some of the recent job cuts.

    This is why you should both take a pay cut - you have failed.

  13. Duke Fame Says:

    The way I see it, council spending has gone up way over inflation in the last 15 years. Mr Leese should take reaponsibility for this over-spending.

    Ifsavings are possible now (I agree they are), then surely the lax control of spending in the past refelcts badly on the town clerk?

  14. DevilsAdvocate Says:

    Does the 2000 include all the temp workers who've already lost their jobs or soon will?

  15. fedup Says:

    Thanks for clearing up the details about the clown hall extension. I understand now that you are unable to at least put the plans on hold. When it's completed it will save us money. Of course you could just postpone it... and save us money. Of course you're right about needing a brand new customer service centre that will allow us to give speedy, effective and efficient service to Manchester people, rather than any of the buildings where staff are located now - where they provide a speedy, effective and efficient service to Manchester people. I work for the council and whatever I'm offered will jump at, because I can't wait to get out of here before it gets run into the ground.

  16. Concern Citizen Says:

    Taking a pay cut by the senior officers may not make a dent in the cuts total but it would show that they care about Manchester and their staff members. But what we see here is “the Leader cares more about protecting his senior members of staff than the citizens of Manchester and his lower level employees”.

  17. Kenny8888 Says:

    You are too quick to dismiss the benefit of selling the airport. Ringway is the last Local Authority owned airport in the UK. The City Council own half of it and a sale would attract huge commercial interest and genetrate significant capital receipts to put into the reserves as well as removing an ongoing capital funding requirement the debt on which is a charge to revenue account.

  18. Me Says:

    You still don't get it do you? "We need our staff to stay motivated" - have you listened to yourself?

    Your staff ARE NOT motivated and haven't been for a very long time so how they can REMAIN motivated is beyond me. The fact we get to hear things from the media first doesn't help.

    If you and the other fella did take a pay cut - just a small one - this might go someway to making things a little easier to swallow. And don't please tell me again its a red herring by government - you are both paid a lot more money than the rest of us and will not suffer from the cuts.
    If you didn't know - WE have already had pay cuts. No pay rise, JE blah blah blah - have you got any idea of the real world either of you?

    "In it together" - some of us are more in IT than others,

  19. Help Says:

    ICE couldn't agree more

  20. woolfy smith Says:

    In light of the council accepting Ms Newman's request for VER from her post as Dir of Children's Services would now be a good time to ask if the criteria for accepting VER requests has changed. I was under the impression it would only be accepted if your post could be disestablished. It appears from the press that Ms Newman's post is to be advertised. How will this contribute to the savings? We're paying her one and half times her salary plus a pension to go THEN we're going to be lashing out a 6 figure salary to replace her!!! Smacks of another case of one rule for management and another for the rest of us.....

  21. Heartbroken ( now even worse) Says:

    Thank you Sir Richard for taking the time to give us some answers.
    Just one thing though if the senior officers had taken a pay cut then that would set a good example for the rest of us and ease our pain a bit, knowing that they at least care. But what now appears to me is the current Tory government and our Labour Council here are the same: they both are protecting the rich, only just at a different level.

    @ me ---- you should have realised it by now ‘Me’; when Sir Richard said "We need our staff to stay motivated" he meant his senior staff, not you and me. He does not care about us.

  22. Hummingbird Says:

    I would advocate splitting the council into two (this will be a very primitive suggestion as I don't have the necessary trainng/knowlege) First would be Manchester City Council Business- an income generating department recieving a small amount of public money but is able to offer services to private sector companies for example on a consulation and advise capacity. There would be a s trict code of conduct and would have to be accountable and monitored by central goverment. Secondly, Manchester City Council Public, whereby all public services are streamlined but maintained. My ideas get a bit hazy after this I'm afraid but some form of income generation to then be put back in the public purse will have to be looked at.

  23. norman Says:

    The City Council should not fund any religious celebrations. Neither should it continue to pay for translation services for residents who have lived in Manchester for more than 2 years. A ridiculous amount of money is wasted on these.

  24. in the know Says:

    I would advise staff to take the money and run. Statutory redundancy is extremely low. There is much worse to come, staff who stay out of loyalty will be hit hardest. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The 2000 job losses will not resolve the need to cut costs of £110million. The 2 loonies running the country have a lot more in store for us up North. I'd advise moving to Wales, I never thought I'd say that in my life time.

  25. Mike Evans Says:

    Could other options be considered such as a pay decrease right accross the board or reduced hours until such time things improve? I'd much rather have a job than not and to continue to support the most vulnerable in our city.

  26. Inside Out-Sider Says:

    I think it is unfair to take it out on DoT. As a former DoT worker, I have never seen so many hard-working people. The scope of their work was huge, and the Govenment has moved the goalposts, and DoT will be left to work even harder and to meet targets faster now. Sir Richard and the respective councillors may put forward grand ideas for savings, but the DoT team in consultation with the rest of the Council services are stuck doing all the nitty gritty stuff, which is why they are required more than ever!

  27. Heartbroken Says:

    @Inside Out-Sider: are you saying that rest of the council workers are not hard working?

  28. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    I have read with interest the plethora of suggestions on how to solve the cuts crisis.

    Do people out there truely believe that if Senior Management, with help from Sir Howard and Sir Richard, took a 5% cut in pay it would resolve the devastation of the financial crisis that Manchester has been forced to endure?

    Or it would bolster every member of staffs pride to such an extent that they would reduce their hours and be only too willing to take a cut in pay?

    GET REAL!!!!!!!!

    To suggest that staff reduce their hours or cut the number of days they work is bordering on ridiculous for the huge majority that have tailored their lives based on what they earn now.
    To reduce the working week from 5days to 4 is in effect a 20% pay cut. Can you afford that? I know I can't!! I now my mortgage company will not make that type of concession.

    If there are people out there that can afford to, or have a desire to, reduce their income voluntarily then please do. I am sure it will be deeply appreciated.

    As for me I have worked for MCC for more than a quarter of century and I ain't going without a fight!! I am not losing my job because some Tory fop thinks it's a bit of a jape and a jolly wheeze to destroy my working life and the City I love. I will do everything I can to fight back not just sit around licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself. I will be demanding explanations from my union and consulting about the next steps. I am not just sitting back and waiting to see "what my union can do for me!!"

    I, and those of you that are members of a union, are the union.

    The elected officials are just that elected to speak and negotiate on behalf of you and me. we the members dictate what course of action should be taken not the officers. so if you want to try and make a difference contact your union branch office and demand to know what they are doing. Talk to your local work place representative/shop steward.Don't sit back or stick your head in the sand get active!!!!

    Those that are not members of a union should be thinking about joining as protection comes in greater numbers and solidarity.

    Oh and by the way Sir Richard and/or Sir Howard where is the apology for the disgraceful way that the redundancies were announced. When will the Director of Communications be leaving as they are ultimately responsible. Or maybe they have left but not communicated it to anyone.

  29. Inside Out-Sider Says:

    Not at all, my father has worked in front line service for 40 years I'd never suggest that. I was just sticking up for DoT as they seem to be easy targets for some in regard to the 'doing hardly any work for loadza money' jibe.

  30. Jim Says:

    Its nice to read about Pauline Newman going as one of the 2000 staff well released by the council. What it fails to say is she is getting 1 and a half times her salery ie over £100,000 and we are recruiting a replacement on £120,000 now were is tah saving again.

  31. homeless and hungre Says:

    I hope MCC are planning to increase their begging and street homeless team, looks like they may have a number of ex MCC employees to help. MCC staff members are quickly becoming the most vulnerable people in the City. At least we can sample some of the fantastic services MCC has to offer (not for long though, services will end).

  32. ice Says:

    @ steam & realist

    My point was merely that those who are being payed lavish amounts of money could take a small negligible cut without fear of being behind on their mortgage and losing their home. I am pretty sure that the lower paid workers are all prepared to take a small cut in their wages if they could keep their job! If we can then why can't others??? If the leader and chief feel so passionately about manchester then why don't they take a voluntary cut to show the employees and people of manchester that they care - That is how you motivate staff!!!

    Moreover, comparing the chief with someone who runs the country is a bit far fetched don't you think?? Even so the salaries should be nowhere remotely similar. The leader has done a comparison but has clearly omitted any perks/benefits that the chief recieves and any tax rebates or expenses wfor which I am sure there are plenty and any percentage bonuses that may have been recieved in the last so many years. It would be interesting to see what they were both paid comparatively 5-10 years ago - Most likely less of a bridging gap when the country was so called "Booming"

  33. t matt Says:

    A fair Blogg post with good answers, though annoyingly does not seem to be written in large part by SRL as much is in 3rd person on SRL, but a good response to blow apart some myths. But, can we not sell Eastlands?

  34. An MCC Worker Says:

    The Council's 1st responsibility is to voters/residents of Manchester. I work for MCC and am grateful for the Council's efforts and plans to move staff around and offer an attractive package to those who can afford to leave/retire. I just want to say thank you. The efforts being made are very much appreciated by me and the other people I have spoken to about it today at work.

  35. Confused Says:

    So the council have issued VS notices to staff,to be completed by March 11,or no deal...at the same time as "restructuring" childrens services management-leaving lots of workers unsure whether they are better off taking redundancy on the council's terms,or hanging on to see whether they still have a service to go back to...which won't be decided until mid-FEB...and add to that,still trying to get their heads around M-people..the sword of Damocles springs to mind..thanks a lot,guys.

  36. Coulrophobia Says:

    @at sir Richard
    Q: Why don't we sell Manchester Airport as that would get us loads of money?
    "Manchester Airport is part-owned by Manchester City Council and is incredibly successful. The Manchester Airport Group continues to grow. Every year we receive a significant dividend that is reinvested in delivering front line services to the most needy. It would not make financial sense to sell the airport for a one off fee - particularly in these uncertain economic times when we wouldn't see the maximum return for it's value."

    How so?

    "Manchester Airport "£280m deal secures upgrade

    Manchester Airport's upgrade has been secured with the negotiation of a £280m refinance deal with seven banks.

    It is thought the cash will help fund the Airport City Business Park, runway one's upgrade, a new control tower and a £10m make-over for terminal three.

    Manchester Airports Group is the UK's largest British-owned airport group, operating Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside airports.

    Finance director Ken Duncan said the deal supported all of its airports.

    "We are pleased to have put in place a competitive funding structure with a strong group of relationship banks," said Mr Duncan.

    He added: "This deal secures funds to support the development of our group of airports, demonstrating real confidence in our business and our strategy." "

    from the BBC web site.

  37. OldFella Says:

    @ 'in the know', I agree. On the whole. However, I do see real positive opportunities for both staff and service users from the Transformation plans. IF it is all humanely and intelligently managed. My opinion is that we have been so focused on customer service, meeting targets, database input etc. that we seem to have lost any care for the personal cost to the employee along the way. Staff are too frightened to say I can't manage this workload. And even if they do, it's handled as their failure, not poor management.

  38. Somebody Says:

    The two loonies running the government! What about the two loonies running this Council?
    I don't understand. I thought the whole idea was to save money. Why sack someone/make her retire/make her redundant and then state that she is to be replaced? You haven't grasped this redundancy concept have you Sir Richard - Howard! I have no faith in your management. Do the decent thing, resign, both of you and save us all a packet!!!

  39. Star Gazer Says:

    Richard, I do actually like you and have always supported your leadership. However, your comments really do make you appear heartless. Stop listening to the comms bodies and speak from the heart. It is the front line staff who will feel the biggest hit and the 2000 who go - where exactly will they go ?. Yes, this is not your fault . It is the coalition government and it is a direct and vert deliberate assault on Manchester as a flag ship labour authority. I hope that it has not escaped your attention - there are very few jobs out there.

    I feel so sorry for the heartbroken blogger their reply almost made me cry. We are talking about real people here not numbers. people with families, rent , mortgages and not George Obourne's bank balance.
    What Manchester needs is reassurance and strong leadership. Layers of senior management must be reduced and the front line services such as street cleaning, bins , social services, education should receive your full and unequivocal backing. By the way what about forging better links with media city to consider jobs for some of the staff who have to go- There must be a fair few back office jobs up for grabs. Given that many of BBC London staff recoil in horror at the prospect of moving up north to this great City ?

  40. RealWorld Says:

    @TMatt - I agree, great post re; Eastlands. I'm sure City supporters would welcome owning their own stadium - and the owners aren't exactly skint, are they?! What's the use of shares of some gate receipts in the future when MCC needs savings NOW!!?

  41. Another worried MCC employee Says:

    Do any of you really think Pauline Newman will be replaced? I suspect a reintegration of Children's and Adult's is on the cards with one director. Until it's actually be planned and agreed by executive it has to stay under wraps.

    I love working for MCC and I can't afford to take the VS so I have to spin the wheel of Manchester roulette which could end in compulsory redudancy.

  42. help is out there Says:

    Thinking of opening a sanctuary for former MCC employees where they can run free and live out the rest of their natural life. Bit like a donkey sanctuary but without the cute donkeys. It would make a great day out for the family

  43. andy Says:

    Ice, do you know how much the leader earns? It's 50-odd grand, which is a nice salary, but hardly excessive for the man in charge of a city like Manchester, no? How much would you cut his pay by? How much do you think he should be paid?

  44. sam Says:

    I have some old shredded committee reports which would make great bedding for the former MCC staff at the sanctuary. Our clients could visit and see their old support workers, housing officers and bin men. It most certainly would attract a lot of local Manchester residents. It's an especially good idea as the MCC staff "gold plated" promise of a pension has actually turned out to be made of tin foil, so won't keep staff in washers in their retirement. I hope all those people who were pensioned off supposidly too ill to work (who are now happily working in other jobs in RSL's etc., ) are proud of the financial ruin of the pension fund. I could name names but wouldn't have enough space on the comments page. Anyway, lets look forward, I believe the BBC plan to re run upstairs/downstairs, how wonderful. See there's always a silver lining.

  45. Heartbroken Says:

    I just wonder if the leader really has any time to read our comments. May be one of his secretaries sorts them out. Otherwise, I am sure he would have said something about our comments by now.

  46. MadasaHatter Says:

    I like working for MCC and don't want to leave, however I will seriously consider VS when I receive my offer. Even the most positive people will struggle to stay motivated with all the changes that will happen over the next few years, what with service transformation, m people, job interviews etc. It's a better offer than compulsory redundancy. I think it would be helpful if a weekly email went round to everyone giving an update on how many of the 2000 jobs that need to be lost still need to go. And there has still not been a response about the possibility of staff working a shorter week i.e. 4 days to save money and keep jobs.

  47. PuppyLove Says:

    As an MCC employee, I have just heard the news that those of us in Unions are apparently being consulted by means of mass meetings about strike action. As a Union member this is news to me? What mass meetings?

  48. council employee Says:

    worried council employee - although it would probably make sense to merge social services, I doubt it will happen now that Pauline is retiring. Also childrens services are doing a management restructure (think it was put before personnell committee on wednesday)

  49. in the know (sort of) Says:

    Coulrophobia, the unions were told that there was going to be a VER/VS scheme BEFORE Christmas, BEFORE the wider leadership team was on 4 Jan, so not sure what your point is. Maybe you should raise it with them.

  50. ice Says:

    @ Andy
    My point is that even if the leader took a 2% cut, it would go a long way in motivating staff and show a true commitment to the city. As mentioned earlier; most at lower level are willing to take such cuts to keep their job! You have to lead by example and start from the top with changes. This is how you win the "hearts & minds" of people and believe me it will be very key in recovering from the great depression the country is or will be suffering fairly soon!

  51. Realist Says:

    The Trade Union's have been aware of the plans for VR and VER since well before Xmas.
    Unite balloting for strike action is unreal.
    What are Unite and its members angry against MCC, Manchester residents?
    What are they striking against?
    At the moment no one is being forced out of a job.
    No front line services have been cut as far as I know.
    The VR package is reasonable, better than most I have seen in the private sector.
    No one has stated that if 2000 staff go front line services will be cut either.
    Surely the time to ballot is when compulsory redundancy is threatened and services are being threatened.
    52 people voted Lib Dem in Baguley. Labour won by a landslide
    This is how we can stop the carnage through the ballot box not through strike action against a City and employer who are not the architects of the cuts.


  52. leather Says:

    Mr Leese - please answer a direct question: Will you show we are all in it together and take a pay cut ?

  53. alfiemoon Says:

    Why is there 14 jobs advertised externally on the MCC website when there are 2000 people at risk of losing thier job? These jobs should be saved for some of those people.

  54. Coulrophobia Says:

    in the know (sort of)
    You say “Coulrophobia, the unions were told that there was going to be a VER/VS scheme BEFORE Christmas, BEFORE the wider leadership team was on 4 Jan, so not sure what your point is. Maybe you should raise it with them.”

    Most people knew way before Christmas that something was in the air with a view to MCC having to make spending cuts /expenditure savings. The unions, I believe were told before Christmas that a VER / VS was being considered by MCC, However since MCC has a collective bargaining agreement, then as a reasonable employer, it should have at least mentioned to the unions, when it hinted that a VER / VS scheme was being considered, the figures involved, maybe as part of a negotiation? That way the unions could then have let their members, MCC employees, know what was coming, possibly negotiated, possibly suggested alternatives, and maybe helped progress towards a solution?

    Instead the employer hinted at a scheme before christmas, but already had its own figures in mind, proven by being able to hold a briefing, as you say, with the wider leadership scheme on 4th Jan.

    So why so shy with the unions?

    And why seek to deflect blame onto them?

    No Doubt in this heavily moderated blog, this reply will not be posted.

  55. Futurist Says:

    What can we do as a body of people to slow down that rate of redundancies?
    In my opinion even if removing 2000 posts from MCC was practical in the medium term, it cannot be practical in the short term without impacting on, not only Customers but also to employee well being and their families.
    Sir Howard, Sir Richards and our local MP's have failed to put a plan to the Government that they find acceptable.
    Why haven't they refused to comply with the Governments wishes?
    Manchester did not vote for the coalition.
    MCC already had a programme looking at reducing heads by 1000 over 3 years.
    Now its 2000 over 1 year.
    2000 over 5 years might have been practical allowing for natural wastage, service / directorate integration, process and system improvement.
    As employees and citizens of Manchester what recourse do we have?
    Marching?
    Strike Action?
    I would like to see a little more fight from Sir Howard and Sir Richard rather than just acceptance,
    I am sure not many MCC employees are in denial that change must happen; the Council must modernize but not at the speed central government wish.



  56. ABU Says:

    Thank you for the Q&A Sir Richard. I agree with most of the points, especially around the importance of the metrolink expansion and town hall refurb.

    However you have still failed to answer what has been the most common question on this blog-
    Why did Council staff hear about arguably the biggest piece of MCC news in 20 years from the morning radio/TV rather than directly from the Senior Mgt?

  57. in the know (sort of) Says:

    @coulrophobia - all I was doing was pointing out that the unions were well aware of the VER/VS package, as your first post seemed (from what I could tell) to suggest that it somehow took them by surprise. It absolutely didn't.

    @ABU - no-one should have heard the news about the VER/VS. We were all told at the WLT meeting to talk to our staff. We were given a briefing note the day before the announcement was made to give to staff. That was all before Sir Howard's broadcast and my staff all knew. If you didn't then you should ask your manager why not as Geoff Little couldn't have been clearer that we needed to be telling our staff. Although I agree that sending out an email at 10 oclock at night is unacceptable and shows how far detached senior management is in this place from everyone else. I'd love to know whose idea it was to send out the email at that time of the night (although having seen the ineptitude of certain people within the chief executives inner circle, I can guess)

  58. Anony Mouse Says:

    This number of responses can surely not be credited with being a proportional representation of the Manchester population. I have contributed to the debate with my opinions, but thought the timing of the survey was ill-judged considering the recent holiday period. What is going to be done to correct this?.....

    Q: We need to have a debate about what services people want.

    Manchester residents were given the opportunity to let us know what they think about our spending priorities during a recent consultation. More than 2,000 residents told us what they thought and will be instrumental in helping us prioritise spending for the coming years.

    We will be publishing our budget proposals in detail on February 8th and there will be a two week opportunity to question and comment on those proposals.

  59. OldFella Says:

    Like almost everyone NOT 'in the know' I also heard the 'big statement' last Thursday morning via the news. My management briefing came late last Friday. Two thirds of that time was mostly wasted with management expressing concerns about their own future, not ours. As for continuing statements to 'ask your line manager', they are as in the dark as the rest of us it seems, or just not saying, but I think it's the former.

    As for the City Council's original plan to achieve job cost savings through no outside recruitment, people retiring, dieing on the job, and leaving voluntarily, no one I spoke to or heard discussing this 'on the shop floor' last year were confidant that enough job loss numbers (to properly enable 'm people') could be achieved without a 'redundancy plan'... But what do we know? The Leader, his cohorts, and the Unions clearly believed they could, and only late December did the added 'shock news' arrive about the settlement that finally caused the current VER/VS situation. About time, however?

    Why were other Councils already well ahead last year in implementing similar VS/VER schemes, and months before December? Is it because Manchester were immediately able to identify so much cash saving elsewhere? Begging the question why such wasteful public spending wasn't already identified and sorted long ago? Is it because these other Councils are already much more spending and service efficient than Manchester City Council is, thus requiring immediate cash savings be made on staff cuts? Is it because these other Councils just aren't as creative and forward thinking as Manchester is, or less humane for that matter? Leaders talk to each other regularly, both our 'Sirs' must have been very aware of what their peers were doing elsewhere in the Region to achieve cost savings. But, as usual, Manchester believed that it could do and should do differently, especially as the Region's 'role model' Council, it had a much more cunning plan called the 'Transformation'... That was until the dreaded December 'settlement'. Is Manchester actually the Region's 'Titanic'?

    I only speculate whether very senior managers, elected Labour Members, (even Union officials), had concerns long ago about some of these staff cost saving predictions, but were too afraid to express opinions 'outside of the box', but are now thinking "no surprise there then". But then we'll never know, and managers can't possibly say because most will be interviewed soon for far fewer job opportunities, and they wouldn't want to be perceived as being anything but 'on side'. And have our Labour Executive Members been as scrutinising and as honestly articulate as they might have been on behalf of service users and Council Tax payers? Again, I only ask the question.

    Btw, no... I am not Cllr. Karney either, but I have met him on a small number of occasions, and he comes across as a good and very fair bloke, personally and in his Council business. So I don't mind the suggestion...

    And I'm sorry that I'm not as 'upbeat' as I have been accused of being in some previous posts. But the mood 'on the shop floor' is spiralling downwards daily, and I can't help but be caught up in the vortex. This is a time when we all need good communications from you, our Leaders. And from our managers. I wouldn't mind hearing some actual words from you, Sir Richard, or Sir Howard for that matter (who to the vast majority of us working for Manchester City Council is a completely remote ivory tower figure), impart a few additional words of 'comfort' to staff, other than the words of woe we've heard via the media as to the impact of these savage cuts. A big ask. I'm waffling, so I'll beggar off and have me dinner...

    Btw, still waiting for my envelope... can't wait!

  60. Coulrophobia Says:

    @in the know (sort of)
    “@coulrophobia - all I was doing was pointing out that the unions were well aware of the VER/VS package, as your first post seemed (from what I could tell) to suggest that it somehow took them by surprise. It absolutely didn't.”

    Good point re my first post, it was composed in that tiny postage stamp sized window before I realised that posts could be composed in word and then cut and pasted, so maybe it makes for harder reading and the points get lost in compression.

    I have raised the matter with my union, they stand by their stance that pre Christmas a meeting took place, not directly about cuts etc, but during that meeting the matter was raised , by the employer- with no figures or amounts mentioned, the employer, MCC, were told to come back after Christmas. In January the briefing for managers took place before the unions had been given any thing to negotiate around or pass on to their members. I only have my unions comments on that. It is strange though that on 4th January managers were briefed - with detail, the unions met with management after that meeting and after managers had commenced to spread the word.

    I have to admit to sharing in the cynicism being shown towards the unions, which now seem dominated by unelected, full time officials. That aside though the unions now stand to lose about 2,000 lots of subs per month, depending on how many of those who leave are union members.

  61. ffrenchie54 Says:

    The non-jobs DO exist & the salaries they are paid are non-sense too; grossly overpaid, oversubscribed & over-the-top...they need to go!

 

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