Manchester City Council

Cuts

I last blogged on the subject of the budget on 17th September signposting readers to a presentation made by the City Treasurer to full Council. Anyone who followed the link will not have been surprised by this week's press coverage of next years budget options, although the Treasurer's current estimate for the year after next, 2016/7, has improved believe it or not, by around £10m.

The reason for the timing of this week's "announcements" is that next week the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committees begin the process of examining the budget options that have been put forward so far. This is the beginning of the decision making process and no decisions have been yet taken.

We are very dependent on central government funding and we do not expect to receive a provisional grant allocation from them until late December (Merry Christmas). When we get that we will finalise our draft budget, which we intend to publish on or around January 7th. The Council Executive will not make budget decisions until February 13th next year. This means there is a good length of time for people to ask questions, to give opinions and to make alternative suggestions. This is the most difficult budget situation we have ever faced so any help gratefully received.

The options are all set out in papers going to our scrutiny committees (links below) and I don't propose to go into detail here. The bottom line is that largely as a result of government cuts, we will have to take another £59m out of the budget next year. Other commentators, not least our local paper the MEN, have clearly shown that the distribution of the cuts is unfair with the more affluent parts of the country benefitting at the expense of the least affluent. However the Council is required by law to produce a legal, balanced budget by March each year. The only way we can take out another £59m, rising to £91m the following year, on top of the £250m we've already had to cut, means some very difficult and unpalatable choices. We will do our best.

Don't usually use the blog for Q and A, but any questions on the budget I will do my best to answer.

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2201/economy_scrutiny_committee

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2215/finance_scrutiny_committee

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There are 14 responses to “Cuts”

  1. Worried Says:

    I guess there is a legal reason why not, but could the council invoice government and its agencies for all the time put in to meet their various demands, so desk time as well as travel and meetings. There may be no 'contract' to invoice against, but maybe some other ways. Desparate times.

  2. Worried Says:

    Also, given over 20% of children in care 'homes' are in NW to save other councils money, any scope to recharge them for consequential costs to Mcr? Same idea for homeless families 'sent North' because of housing crisis in London boroughs?

  3. Val Stevens Says:

    No easy choices left. They are long gone just least bad. More devo Manc. This government has no concept of fairness or humanity it sometimes appears. Dreadful situation for local government and the people it serves.

  4. Worried also Says:

    Bins - contract to only have black bins emptied (residual waste) and allow (by licence and rules compliance) *any* number of at-will recycling collectors to empty all other bins, working with Environment Agency for £1 SME waste carrier licences. Still issue all types of bins to households, manage black bin numbers the most, not least for landfill tax (see GMWA). Grant aid a social enterprise as collector of last resort for any 3/4-full recycling bin not emptied in over 2 weeks (grant-aid because market failure). Licenced and uniformed collectors permitted to collect up to 2m inside property boundaries only. Explore same market solution for some or all forms of bulky waste, esp wood and furniture, with council as first contact. Use GMCA to put a rocket under GMWA.

    Wifi - saturate city centre and other high-use areas with *free* indefinite wifi, interrupted with ads every 10 minutes, and sell advertising as hard as (eg) Google. Ditto airport, station precincts, football approaches, major roads, HEI public realm. MEN to front-page shame any vested interest telecom outfit who try to resist this with lawyers, plus take them publicly to UK supreme court. State aid claims are a red herring. The correct analogy is with East Coast railway company as a public sector comparator keeping the others honest. Transparent procurement or total integration into the internet 'spine' is key.

    Streets - phone app to report commercial waste offences to council (eg glass on pavement outside named bars), rigorous enough as evidence to generate enforcement notices and business fines.

    Libraries - contract with Amazon for all libraries to be customer collection points for packages, ditto with all other interested courier companies.

    Leisure, Wellbeing and Football - 1. Putting aside team sentiments and acknowledged good community bits, this obscenely rich industry needs to be screwed to the floor by some very hard-eyed football atheists. The PR free riding on the Mcr international brand has been shameless. Ideas: on airspace intrusion for high level TV images (tall platforms, balloons, drones, high wires, etc) look to regulate and tax these to the *hilt*. Additional policing ditto (reduces precept). Look to push case law hard without fear or favour.
    2. Clubs that are spending capital to build assets on their own land in the hope of mitigating international fines for being judged to have unsustainable finances, such clubs should spend equivalent amounts of revenue *outside* their grounds eg via local authority leisure services to acknowledge and mitigate adverse community impacts, which do exist. Where a club rents its ground from a local authority, this could be done as a service charge on top of rent, annually negotiated. Far better to pay a local contribution than an international fine.

    Schools - explore whether the substantial schools exams annual fees could be reduced by a GM HEI non-profit marking consortium with independent QA. Use intelligent multiple choice as much as USA does at all levels.

    Land and Property - the University of Manchester's 'star players' strategy for fame and fortune is somewhat busted. The UMIST campus remains a puzzle to them and not centring all things Graphene there was a serious and telling error. Its proximity to HS2 needs to be developed beyond identikit A-grade office space or student resi SHMG. Consider a joint venture between MCC and UoM to Masterplan the very best future use for this key location, then sell as a package to a sovereign wealth fund and cash in MCC's share (eg 60:40) based of added value over baseline into budget asap. Longer term, encourage MMU leadership team skills into UoM team. Homework 1: MBS, kill off or cure? Reason: a better MBS would be exactly the centre of excellence we are needing to help with our 'monster issues' such as these cuts.

  5. Ad infinitum Says:

    Would be nice if someone in the opposition actually stood up to this unelected rabble of a government and their seemingly endless "scorched earth" policy towards our public services.Won't hold my breath though.

  6. Worker Says:

    Will you be giving up your job Sir Richard?

    Will Sir Howard?

    I dont have a knigthood so I have already received an email from the both of you about voluntary joining the dole queue.

  7. Confused Says:

    You say the cuts are 59 rising to 91. Does that mean a total of 150? Im sure Ive seen it as only 90 mill in total for 2 years elsewhere. Should we be worried or extremely worried. Can you clarify please? Thanks

  8. i love jack russels Says:

    there is one authority in the region that hasn't had such punitive cuts, and that has in fact had another rise in funding to go with the others it's had during the coalition government. It must be a cesspit of the most desperate need and deprivation given these hard times of "making difficult decisions". It is called Chesire East - some may know it better as Tatton Park and it is ......George Osborne's constituency. I would like to to see local council leaders put up a more public fight about the blatant partisan gerry mandering that has taken place over allocation of LA funding over the last 4 years - it is an absolute disgrace.

  9. MCC Says:

    Just to confirm it is a reduction of £59m in 2015/16 with an additional £32m in 2016/17 - a total of £91m.

  10. Tommy Says:

    Get a grip on avoiding waste. I have moved house 4 times and on each occasion there has been spectacular cock ups, all of which I reported to you. These involved waste in Council staff's time and even paying for debt control agencies where no debt existed. Each time letters were sent with duplicated fact books on the rates and in separate letters sometimes produced on the same date. How much did you waste on the referendum for the congestion charges. Like all alabour politicians you are a serial incompetent.

  11. J Says:

    We hear a lot about the cuts in terms of the financial savings that is required but nothing of the impact it has had thus far nor what the impact will be on our residents and communities over the next few years and beyond. How are people and our local communities fairing, what should they prepare for etc? Hasn't the council conducted a full health / community / benefits (the list goes on) impact review? I'd like more information on the real challenges- outcomes rather than the outputs.

  12. Cllr Bernard Priest Says:

    @Worried: We are planning to save £2.4m by reducing the amount of waste residents produce. We have massively increased recycling rates in the city over the last few years through developing tailored plans which suit individual locations - such as by introducing large communal containers in streets too narrow for large numbers of bins - rather than by trying to impose a 'one size fits all' solution. We are aiming to continue this work through schemes such as converting waste containers to recycling containers in high rise blocks, and campaigns to raise awareness about food recycling and the need to minimise waste. We are also to step up enforcement against those who persistently cause problems in Manchester neighbourhoods by not disposing of their waste properly.
    We also believe that bringing together waste collection and street cleansing will generate opportunities for improving the services provided for Manchester residents and will also generate efficiencies. A single service will mean key locations can be cleaned thoroughly on one visit. We have set out in the contract specification how some of these efficiencies mean we expect to see cleaner streets. Ensuring our streets are clean continues to be a major priority for us and we have put a lot of work into making sure residents have no excuse to drop litter.

  13. Worried Says:

    @cllr Bernard Priest, thanks for the reply and I fully support Mcc efforts for more recycling. I guess my point is, why not create an entrepreneurial market by allowing others to empty recyling bins at no cost to the council. With safeguards. Saves maybe £9m a year.

  14. ian Says:

    What I can not understand either on the local news or the MEN how these charities blame the local council for the cuts.

    Come on it is the Tories and Lib Dems that forced this on the local authority.

    What I do blame the local authority for not doing at every meeting about the cuts tell the people who has forced this on them The Tories and Lib Dems.

    What the people of Manchester must understand if you take 38% of the budget away there will have to be terrible cuts to ther front line.

    What i think people is the Gerry Diamond shouting about these cuts and how he loves the Torries is that because you got kicked when you stood for the Lib Dems in the city centre bitter and twisted I say. Move down south if you want a Tory Council.

    Just remember come next May who has forced these cuts on the country and whos ecomomic polies have failed with these savage cuts to reduce the deficit over the last year instead borrowing 4.3 billion more.

 

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

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