The Council Executive met today to agree its budget recommendations to the full Council. The recommendations now go to Scrutiny and with any proposed amendments are considered by Finance Scrutiny on February 25th. They then go for debate and decision at a special budget Council meeting on March 8th, but even then the process is not over. A number of the budget proposals are subject to separate consultations. The one on Leisure, a non-statutory consultation, concludes on March 8th and is considered by the Council Executive on April 10th. The other statutory consultations on various aspects of the Adult and Children's Care proposals and on Libraries conclude in April and will be considered by the Executive early in May.
One of the decisions of the Executive was to urge people to sign a petition that originated in Liverpool and essentially calls for a fair grant settlement. Local government generally is taking far more than its fair share of the cuts, and areas with significant poorer populations like Manchester ( and Liverpool ) are having to take an unfair share of the unfair share. Council officers calculate that if Manchester's cut was the same as the England average we would, by the end of the current comprehensive spending review period, ie 2014/15, be £55m per year better off. The cut in grant per resident for Manchester is almost twice the national average. I am strongly of the view that the cuts are too fast and too deep, but even with this level of cuts, Manchester would be in a far better position if they were fairly distributed.
The Executive received presentations from the Save Withington and Save Levenshulme baths campaigns. Withington had earlier put forward a community led proposal to keep the baths open until the planned replacement opens with a commitment to community fundraising underwritten by Cash grants and this proposal was endorsed by the Executive subject to the consultation referred to above. Levenshulme and Miles Platting are trying to develop similar proposals and the Executive agreed that officers would support those communities in trying to put their proposals together before final decisions are made in April.