Updated plans for Manchester City Council’s budget, including a reduced increase in Council Tax, have been published.
Last year the Council set a three-year budget for the period 2017/18 to 2019/20 which followed a large-scale consultation with residents to understand their priorities.
They told us that the things they valued most were care and support for vulnerable people, action on family poverty, tackling homelessness, supporting people into jobs and training, keeping our roads and neighbourhoods in good shape and parks and leisure to help keep people happy and active. The budget was framed to reflect this.
Going into year two of the budget, 2018/19, those priorities remain the same and progress is being made towards goals such as bringing health and social care together, supporting people earlier so they do not need more costly support later on and changing waste collection arrangements to deliver increased recycling and savings.
But slight changes in the Council’s overall financial position, such as increased commercial income due to prudent investments, have increased the amount of resources available and provided the opportunity to boost priorities.
More than half of the Council’s service budget – around £577m for 2018/19 – goes on services to protect and care for vulnerable adults, including older people and adults with learning difficulties, and children.
Proposed budget increases this year include:
- £3.4m extra funding for homelessness, to improve prevention work and offset the impact of government funding for temporary accommodation
- A further £1m to support residents hit by the roll-out of Universal Credit with discretionary payments to help them not to lose their homes
- £3.7m over 2018/19 and 2019/20 to keep streets clean, combat fly tipping and address other environmental issues – this will be funded through savings made in waste collection and disposal arrangements and the use of other existing resources.
Today’s Executive highlighted some of our notable achievements in the current financial year including the opening of the Longford Centre in Chorlton helping to support people vulnerable to homelessness; a new fund to make sure poorer children eat well at school; and the extra support we’re giving young care leavers to settle into life after care, including delaying the requirement for care leavers to pay Council Tax until the age of 21.
Today’s meeting also gave an overview of investment in Manchester despite a smaller budget, including: the regeneration of the Ben Street area in east Manchester, improvements to Moston Lane, and the creation of the Factory arts centre.
The Council is already committed to deliver major investments in 2017-20 including:
- £100m investment to improve roads in every neighbourhood
- £24m on building and refurbishing leisure centres – including proposals to improve Moss Side Leisure Centre and Abraham Moss Leisure Centre.
- £22.8m to help integrate health and community services in East Manchester
- £6m improving housing with care and older people
- £3m on supporting housing for adults with learning disabilities
Manchester will still have one of the lowest Council Tax bills in the country.
The Council’s element of Council Tax bills will go up by less in 2018/19 than had originally been planned – 3.49 per cent instead of the 4.99 per cent envisaged last year. This will be achieved by spreading a planned one-year increase to help fund adult social care across two years, enabled by a one-off rebate from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for Mayoral functions that are currently being funded via the Mayoral precept, and increased business rate retention.
This is in recognition that increases in precepts – other parts of the overall bill which fund non-council services such as the police, fire brigade and GM Mayor - to maintain services will lead to increased bills, so the Council is doing what it can to reduce the increase without affecting services.
The levels of planned investment in adult social care will be maintained.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Ongoing reductions in government funding, which have hit places such as Manchester the hardest, and the impacts of austerity have put our budgets under pressure. But we are determined to keep delivering on our priorities, which we believe also reflect those of Manchester people – supporting those who need it the most and helping everyone to share in the growth and success of the city while making sure the bread-and-butter services, from roads to rubbish collections, are right."
Councillor John Flanagan, Executive Member for Finance, said: “We also recognise that many Manchester people remain under financial pressure which is why we are minimising the reduction to this year’s Council Tax bill.”
The draft budget was heard at the Council’s Executive on Weds 7 February as well as being considered by various scrutiny committees. A special budget meeting of the full Council on 2 March will then set the final budget.