Manchester City Council

Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

Full Council today. It started off with a pleasant, formal event - the installation of former councillor Keith Whitmore as an Honorary Alderman. Keith stood down from the Council in May after 33 years and all members of the Council were delighted to support the honouring of this long and distinguished public service. The meeting then became very much more serious.

The City Council's Head of Council Tax and Benefits, Julie Price, gave a presentation on the government's changes to welfare benefits, some already in and some, like Universal Credit and the scrapping of the current Council Tax benefit system, on the way. Big issues addressed included what is now widely understood as the bedroom tax and the imposition of a benefits cap. Julie was followed by Karen Dyson from Citizens Advice Bureaux talking about the research they had done into the impact of these cuts, and Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Willow Park and Parkway Green Housing trusts, talking about the impact on social landlords and their tenants. It was a dismal half hour. The good news is that pensioners are largely protected. The bad news is that these cuts aren't at the work-shy or the welfare scroungers. The people most hit will be families with young children, older couples whose children have grown up and left home, and anybody who has the misfortune to be under 35. I know cutting benefits is generally popular with the public, but I think that popularity will wane very quickly when people see just who is being hit and what the impacts on society are. We won't see the full impact of these changes for a couple of years but for thousands of families, and many neighbourhoods, they are potentially devastating.

Council business tends to be determined by the political parties. This year, given the dominance of the Labour Party in the Council Chamber, we have introduced the Council equivalent of a private members bill, the difference being that in our version they have a chance of being passed. Each Council meeting, a member of the Labour Group ( determined by a draw ) is able to present a resolution of his or her choice and there is no party whip in place. The lucky winner for today's meeting was newly elected Councillor Bridie Adams who moved a resolution opposing government legislation depriving victims of domestic violence of legal aid. Bridie's resolution got pretty overwhelming support but I have no doubt we will get some controversy before the year is out.

The meeting went rapidly down hill after that.

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There are 13 responses to “Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind”

  1. enquirier Says:

    are there any thoughts in regards to raising Council Tax to raise money, if there is proper consultation, some would support increases in Council Tax if it went on meeting the bill for Adult Social Care, cleaning the streets better or other worthy causes etc

  2. Camille Says:

    Benefit cuts are popular with the right wing press and their supporters, but when the stories of hardship and suffering start to filter through (which they undoubtedly will) then I think things may change.

    At Prime Minister's Questions this week Cameron claimed to be on the side of "workers not shirkers". A bold statement when unemployment of young people is at an unprecedented level.

  3. i love jack russels Says:

    I truly believe that we will look back at this period of history with a sense of national shame at what has been allowed to happen. The most vulnerable people in the country - terminally ill, disabled, those already living in poverty, young people trying to start out in life, young children -are all being hammered to pay for the regular 'quantitive easing' allowing billions being shovelled into charlatan banks, never to be seen again. Contracts for the boys (especially tory donors) ensuring the likes of A4E and G4S sucking up any public monies -because the 'private sector are always more competitive and efficient' apparantly. A man who is essentially a loan shark (mr wonga) allowed to write government policy on employment rights. Compare this with after the 2nd world war when we were in serious financial straits, but managed to create the NHS and the welfare state. Because we had our priorities right.

  4. Pamela Welsh Says:

    If you are affected by these changes and you live in a Northwards property, you can have a look at our website for ways we can help: http://www.northwardshousing.co.uk/moneyadvice/benefitchanges.htm

  5. Dave Says:

    The Welfare Reform Act of 2012 passed in March was a document that slipped past. It starts with effecting people having spare rooms according to them.

    But also in the pipe line is a law to limit social housing to those with low incomes no figure as yet but more likely the standard wage ie about £21,000 family income. Those with more will have to leave social housing.

    regards

  6. Ian Says:

    Its strange all this about the so called bedroom tax this was in the Welfare Reform Act that was only fought by the unelected Lords.

    This is now law this will come in a rolling way from April. It will not effect the Social Housing providers as the loss is to the tennent. As it say in the act even if you want to move but can't through no fault of your own ie no homes suitable for you it will still take money away from you 14% for one room extra 25% for two rooms extra.
    There will be more people removed out of their homes by this act.
    The government has said and the Labour Party do not disagree that HB only makes private landlords rich it is not affordable in the long run 22 Billion a years seems a lot.

    regards

  7. Wiliam Says:

    How can Manchester have a real demorecy when they don't have a second party to hold them to account. The city will soon become like a single party state. With comrade Richard showing us the way via the next five year plan.

  8. i love jack russels Says:

    William, the reason why there is an almost 100% labour hold across Manchester is simply that of all the people who voted, most of them voted for labour. This IS how democracy works, one person one vote, then party with the most votes wins the seat. You make it sound like something conspiratiorial has gone on to sneak in an almost fully labour council by the back door.

  9. William Says:

    i love jack russels you seemed to miss the story I knew how we got were we are but if you look I said it was'nt good for a party either labour or Tory or Lib Dem to have complete control of a city as big as manchester without a second party to keep them honest(ie doing whats good for the people not there party) Thanks agin for showing me what democracy is I'll come back to you when the elected central government gives out its review of LA spending in the auteum for the next three years. So when they give the city another 25% cut I'll say just like you that how democracy works.

  10. Dave Bishop Says:

    Somehow I doubt that 'I love Jack Russels' would be so sanguine, or be lecturing us on 'democracy', if the Tories or the LibDems were the dominant party on Manchester City Council.

    Personally, though, I would be just as disturbed by those althernative scenarios. True democracy depends on an effective opposition - without one we have a 'one party state' - however unpalatable that phrase might be.

    I think that politicians of ALL parties should be asking themselves why so few people bother to vote these days.

    For what it's worth, if you want my opinion, it's because, for the last 30 years, politicians of ALL parties have slavishly supported neo-liberal, free market economics which has largely benefited the rich and Big Business (and got us into the present economic mess) rather than ordinary people.

    Those people have then decided that it's not worth voting - a bad and misguided decision in my opinion!

  11. i love jack russels Says:

    My point is that none of the other parties were electable enough in the last 2 Manchester local elections to retain or win a seat, which is hardly 'Comrade Richards'' fault (did you get this our of the daily mail ?) which has resulted in Manchester Labour having no opposition. Of course it's better to have a good turn out and for the result to reflect the preferences of the electorate. There's always a lot of room for improved turn-out, but the turn out in Manchester has brought about this result - it is as it is, because this is what the electorate who turned out chose. More worrying is the central government that none of us voted for and that has 2 parties carrying out policies that neither have a mandate for and that weren't in either of their manifestos - auctioning off of the NHS for example. I agree with Dave Bishop's last 2 paragraphs on how we've come this economic mess. I object to a government that is hell bound on making those furthest away from causing the mess be most iable to pay for it, while those who are most responsible continue to flourish. The main purpose of this government is to ensure that during this time of economic disaster, the wealth remains with the wealthiest 5%, who in some cases caused the disaster.

  12. william Says:

    ''''''More worrying is the central government that none of us voted for and that has 2 parties carrying out policies that neither have a mandate for and that weren't in either of their manifestos - auctioning off of the NHS for example'''''''

    Those people in the Home Counties or in Sale that Voted for the Government might disagree with you there. True when the Lib Dems are destroyed in the next election and we get a true Tory Government in my you'll see some good things then coming forward. proper Tory policies without being held back by those Libs. How much do you think the cut will be for the next three years for MCC will be then.

  13. noodles Says:

    @william: I don't really understand your argument. Vote Tory if you want more massive cuts in public services, that'll teach Richard Leese eh?

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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