Manchester City Council

And Now for the Hard Work

The Council is just about getting to the end of what has been the most difficult budget that certainly any current Councillors, and one or two go back over thirty years, can remember. You might think that Executive Members in particular would be breathing a collective sigh of relief as we get to the end of the decision making process but in reality the hard work for them and for Council officers has only begun. We now have to deliver the budget and the price of failure doesn't bear thinking about. If we don't deliver the budget financially then we end up having to make even bigger cuts to compensate. If we don't deliver the radical changes in service provision then thousands of Manchester residents, many already suffering under the government's deficit reduction programme, face an even harder time. We have to believe in a better future and for that we need to keep Manchester, the place, growing and developing.

Yesterday, Executive Members spent the morning with the Council's strategic management team working on what are probably the most difficult parts of the budget. Work to promote independence, reduce dependency. New delivery models with the city's entire early years population to improve their life chances before they even get to first base. Integrating Health and Social Care, improving community services, eliminating unnecessary admissions to hospital particularly amongst older people and stopping the same people being left too long in hospital because the community support they need isn't there. A whole family approach with " troubled " families, getting the full spectrum of public agencies, national and local, to work together in a co-ordinated way focussed on the family rather than just their particular service speciality. Behaviour change, citizens not customers taking more responsibility for their own neighbourhoods. Most of this involves change programmes lasting at least three years and in some cases much longer. Indeed the hard work has only just begun.

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There are 8 responses to “And Now for the Hard Work”

  1. WhyDoesntThisWork Says:

    Will it post? Why does it think I'm attacking the website?

  2. WhyMakeItHarder Says:

    Whilst I am under no illusions that the hard work is just beginning, I am very definitely convinced MCC is not making life easy for themselves or the residents of Manchester by proxy. Much has been made of £80 million of cuts and that Manchester is disproportionately affected to the tune of £55 million a year. Whilst the citizens of our city are sure that Manchester has been unfairly treated by central government, after the charade that was the library services consultation process, we are absolutely convinced that Manchester city council does not possess the wherewithal nor the inclination to truly save Manchester from central government targeting.

    The library service consultation report and the subsequent decisions are a prime example of how MCC frankly don’t know what they are doing. Sure, these are unprecedented times and one might argue “who would” but reality is that within the £10.8 million or so that the library service costs to run, you could definitely find the £500,000 to keep all the libraries open. The consultation process gave MCC that get out of jail card.

    60% – 70% of the library services budget is staffing costs (Source: Neil MacInnes, head of libraries). That is at least £6.48 million. The requirement is to save around £500,000. The consultation questionnaire showed that the potential supply of volunteers was 191 individuals. For £500,000 you could potentially offer early retirement to, redistribute or make redundant around 29 FTE staff members (@35 hours a week) from the library services budget. The 191 available volunteers would come under the library service to replace those jobs, with at least one full time library staff member on site at any one time managing them. That means each of those volunteers would need to cover 5.3 hours a week if the impact was distributed across the whole of Manchester. How many libraries close? None. What do the volunteers get? Work experience and “take more responsibility” for their own neighbourhoods.
    Did the library service consider this? Given the quality of the analysis in the report, I am almost 100% certain they didn't.

  3. WhoDoomedTheKids Says:

    You speak of the critical early years and also of the adult and child social care bill. The first basis you speak of includes critical ages for child literacy levels as measured to KS2. The Burnage Library campaign submitted a report detailing the impact on their area, using figures obtained from the KPMG foundation’s report into the impact of literacy on local authorities. For Burnage alone, an increase in the low-literacy level from 9.9% to 17% across the city, as were the figures from before the every child a reader campaign, will accelerate child and adult social care costs year on year to the point of costing the council an extra £1.55 million across these budgetary lines and more! This is just for Burnage alone! These funds would include expenditure out of the adult and social care budgets. The very budgets you are trying to buffer. This also impacts on the number of NEET individuals the city will have. What was interesting was that from the January strategy, there was no corresponding increase in social care and crime funds to cover this effect. However, a small group of individuals, educated in an area where their library is set to close, picked this up over your council officers.

    To us taxpayers, the closure of libraries in areas like Burnage, where the cost is currently around £43,000, only to pay £1.55 million later on whilst we increase our council tax bills by 4%, desn't look much liek a good investment. Indeed, it is unforgivable.

    OK, let's be kind, it is forecasting after all and of course, you can’t predict what the future holds with certainty. So let’s suppose the analysis was out by a factor of 10. That means that the low-literacy level has to increase by just 0.71% and that will still eventually cost MCC almost four times as much as they pay for that library at the moment. These are the local people who will help bring the jobs to Manchester. As a private businessman, one of the reasons I favour Manchester over cities like London, in addition to the lower cost of floorspace and the existence of transport links (airport and train), is the relatively high skill level 'per pound'. Take the libraries away and the corresponding decrease in local literacy will only result in greater requirements for inter-city migration (either for work or study) which will not have a increase in expenditure, but not a corresponding increase in council tax income. Indeed, in some cases it will cost you more.

  4. Mr X Says:

    Two very interesting posts. @WhoDoomedTheKids: I think I'm right in saying that the 4% increase in Council Tax is due entirely to the Police and Fire Precepts rather than any increase in MCC requirements.

  5. Save BURNAGE LIBRARY Says:

    Yes you have had to make cuts and it is appreciated that it is a difficult time.

    But why is a labour council making cuts that prioritise vanity projects over library services for Manchester residents.
    Please think again and listen to the people.

  6. WhoDoomedTheKids Says:

    @MrX - Only a minority of it. The combined fire and police precept explains an increase of under £11 to the average band D property. The exact increase in the council tax bill for a band D property is £49.25 (MCC's council tax band D 2012/13 = £1379.24, council tax band D 2011/12 = £1326.99).

    So there is over a £38 'shortfall' to account for. Other items in the council tax breakdown include waste management too. From what I understand, efficiency savings have already been made resulting in a 10% drop in police and fire precept respectively. Though the police and fire service have taken the difficult decision to raise their bill to MCC.

    Going forward, as the impact of literacy problems start to take hold in 5 to 10 years, these precepts will increase significantly. Using figures from the KPMG Foundation report as a guide, we can expect that 18p in every £1 EXTRA spent to address the city's issues caused by literacy problems will go towards addressing the costs of crime (including antisocial behaviour) and roughly another 10p in social care costs associated with being NEET. That is 28% of any extra cost going towards the police and fire precepts, if efficiency savings are not made and economies of scale are not available. So for Burnage, that will eventually mean extra spending of as much as £279,000, just on costs of crime. Almost 7 times the cost of the library to run.

    MCC have not accounted for this in their budgetary projections to 2025 and also have not accounted for the compounding effects of increases in population in that time (whether by economic migration as they wish it, or by the difference in birth and lowering death rates per year).

  7. movetocheshire Says:

    The Council's continued 'jobs' justification for expenditure on city centre events when money could be spent on the services it is cutting for it's own tax payers doesn't make sense. Does MCC expect the people attracted to work in the city to live in the communities that it is systematically marginalising and destroying? What the Council is doing is widening the gap between the have and have nots in our city and creating jobs and cultural events for our neighbouring authorities tax payers.

  8. ToMrX Says:

    @MrX - Only a minority of it. The combined fire and police precept explains an increase of under £11 to the average band D property. The exact increase in the council tax bill for a band D property is £49.25 (MCC's council tax band D 2012/13 = £1379.24, council tax band D 2011/12 = £1326.99).

    So there is over a £38 'shortfall' to account for. Other items in the council tax breakdown include waste management too. From what I understand, efficiency savings have already been made resulting in a 10% drop in police and fire precept respectively. Though the police and fire service have taken the difficult decision to raise their bill to MCC.

    Going forward, as the impact of literacy problems start to take hold in 5 to 10 years, these precepts will increase significantly. Using figures from the KPMG Foundation report as a guide, we can expect that 18p in every £1 EXTRA spent to address the city's issues caused by literacy problems will go towards addressing the costs of crime (including antisocial behaviour) and roughly another 10p in social care costs associated with being NEET. That is 28% of any extra cost going towards the police and fire precepts, if efficiency savings are not made and economies of scale are not available. So for Burnage, that will eventually mean extra spending of as much as £279,000, just on costs of crime. Almost 7 times the cost of the library to run.

    MCC have not accounted for this in their budgetary projections to 2025 and also have not accounted for the compounding effects of increases in population in that time (whether by economic migration as they wish it, or by the difference in birth and lowering death rates per year).

 

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

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