Manchester City Council

Over the Edge

A lot of us in Public Service are waking up with a bit of a hangover this morning, but not alcohol induced, rather the result of drinking in yesterday's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announcements.

I'm going to keep this short as for those of you interested, and that ought to be everyone, you can find acres of comment in the press and a lifetime of viewing and listening on TV, Radio and the Web looking at the CSR from every angle imaginable.

There is still a lot of detail to be revealed but the headline reduction for Council Services across the country is a 28% real terms reduction over the next four years. That's even worse than we had anticipated but in Manchester at least we remain confident that with the planning we have been doing over the past eighteen months and the service transformation work that is underway we can minimise the impact on the services that Manchester people say are most important to them and at the same time avoid compulsory redundancies. That is important. We will be employing less people but offering job security to our existing staff is a key element in maintaining the well-motivated and flexible workforce we will need to get through the next few difficult years.

We won't be able tp prevent though a lot of suffering in the city. Most independent commentators suggest although the CSR impacts on everyone it is the poor that will suffer most. Other public services, particularly police and health, will be suffering as well, and the plain facts are that over the next few years thousands on thousands of Manchester residents will be earning less and paying more. Childcare, bus and train fares,pension contributions,student fees, rents, are just some of the things going up, and when the VAT increase comes on stream in February virtually everything will be more expensive. Job losses, pay freezes, changes to welfare benefits, the abolishing of Educational Maintenance Allowances, changes to the indexation of private pensions are just some of the reasons people will have less to spend. It is a gloomy picture but Manchester is not going back to the dark days of the early eighties. As a city we are stronger and more resilient than we were even ten years ago and together we will get through this and will continue to thrive.

There are 19 responses to “Over the Edge”

  1. franky Says:

    Well I hope you are right that we can get through without the pain of thatcherism. But tories don't change they just want the to put the poor down. Where will the workhouse be?

  2. Social Solutions Academy Says:

    Dear Sir Richard,
    I read your blog with interest and have just seen you on the ITV programme Party People.
    However I am responding as a social entrepreneur and concerned constituent of East Manchester.
    Further to the point you made on Party People in relation to the number of private sector contractors that are dependent on the council’s procurement process I would like to know how the council plans to protect its poorest communities.
    I am working closely with the members of the private sector to support other social entrepreneurs to reach their goals as social purpose providers. Our work is being done without public funding. The social purpose providers we are engaged with are taking a range of practical steps to become ‘tender ready’, for example understanding the value they bring to the market and forming partnerships with others.
    As you are aware in May 2010 the Coalition Government stated that radical reform of public services was needed and third sector organisations were one means by which to improve outcomes and reduce the national debt.
    Social enterprise, charities and co-operatives can play a valuable role in the running of public services. They reach and engage communities, understand needs and pioneer new approaches, which have a social, environmental and economic impact.
    However, according to Growing the Big Society enterprise in deprived communities, June 2010, procurement and commissioning offer a route to sustainability for any social and community enterprises, and yet research shows that most community and social enterprises experience significant barriers in accessing such funding.
    We are organising Social Enterprise Action Day, 18 November, in Ardwick which features a ‘Social Innovation Panel’ to discuss the worklessness agenda and the role social enterprise in this area. The panel is focused around Ardwick and New East Manchester, which as you are aware are the pilot areas for the Greater Manchester Strategy.
    Members of the panel (private and social enterprises) are giving their time to contribute to this discussion for free. Despite my attempts to engage relevant council departments representing these wards to date Manchester City Council is not represented in the discussion.
    The solutions that will be put forward need to be heard and implemented by the council, as to remain ‘a strong city’ we all need to work together.
    The focus of a Big Society event held in the city centre today was ‘commissioning and procurement-creating a more level playing field’. Unfortunately, MCC was not represented. One social leader attending the event asked if commissioners were willing to engage with the social enterprise sector.
    I am pleased to hear Chris White MP has been given the opportunity to present a private members bill ‘Public services (social enterprise and social value)’, which will be launched the day after Social Enterprise Action Day. Chris White states “underpinning this legislation is the concept of ‘social value’, which I believe holds the key for the future of public service provision”.
    During the Party People programme Suzanne Williams; former leader of Trafford Council agreed that the Big Society is about reducing the role of the state by “giving power back to citizens”.
    As a council tax payer and resident of a ward already facing an array of challenges, including unemployment I would like to see MCC officers embracing the social enterprise community, by engaging with social leaders to show that your organisation is willing to work with the people.

  3. ABU Says:

    What is the feeling amongst your Liberal Democrat collegues in the council chamber? Are they supportive or wary of the coalition cuts?
    Manchester is in the interesting position of having the Lib Dems in opposition locally but holding power nationally.

  4. fed up Says:

    How much is the Clown Hall refurb again? Same week the cuts were announced, 3 posts advertised at £70,000 a year. You talk about earning less and paying more and the poorest being most affected - start the cuts at the top, that's where they are needed most.

  5. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    'Over the edge', you say - and yet the Chancellor says we're 'back from the brink'. Who's right?

  6. Equally frustrated Says:

    I too work with social businesses, community interest companies and community groups all of whom are making a real difference on the ground by finding new ways of working together to help the most disadvantaged people. And these organisations are real income generating, community building enterprises that have managed to combine economic sustainability with social goals and benefits. And yet they continue to face barrier after barrier when it comes to dealing with the commissioning and procurement process.

    I agree with the Social Solutions Academy and believe they are not only essential for solving of our most pressing social issues but are also essential to how we design and deliver public sector services. If you want to know how to save money in public spending engage the people who are delivering the work that solves the social issues which drive the greatest cost in public sector spending.

    We need to see more collaboration between the public sector and the third sector. Getting out of organisational silos and working with each other is the only way forward.

  7. Elaine Bowker, Strategic Director Transformation Says:

    The £154 million Transformation of the Town Hall Extension and Central Library, which is on budget and programme, is designed to improve outcomes for all Manchester residents and staff through an improvement in the physical environment creating the opportunity to provide genuine cultural and behavioural change.

    The transformation of customer services started with the move to temporary accommodation in One First Street, with the opening of the Customer Service Centre on 1 June 2010. Staff from customer-facing services across the council have been brought together for the first time, providing access to council services for Manchester residents using the recently instigated ‘one number, one click, one visit philosophy. Customer focussed services structured around the need of residents rather than Council requirements enables customers to access all council services in a single visit.

    During the construction period, we will be working with our construction partners to provide valuable job opportunities for Manchester residents, particularly for the long term unemployed and our construction partner has committed to providing long term apprenticeship opportunities as part of the programme.

    We will use the space in the Town Hall Extension much more efficiently by moving to open plan, more technologically enabled offices achieving more modern, flexible working arrangements, increasing available desk spaces and by implementing ‘agile working’ get even greater efficiencies allowing the Council to vacate other leased premises in the City, leading to financial savings.

    Transformation of the Central Library will improve customer access from the present 30% of the floor space to 70% enabling a doubling of visitor numbers to 2 million. Improved facilities will allow residents quicker access to much more information and a significantly improved experience in this much loved part of Manchester’s heritage.

  8. Toulousaincon Says:

    Elaine Bowker, I think you just proved the point made by 'fed up.'

  9. marcus Says:

    Elaine, please can you explain what you mean by 'genuine cultural and behavioural change.'

    Also, why do you refer to the contractor as a 'partner'. This sounds far too cosy - you are supposed to manage them in a commercial way, not get into bed with them.

  10. giles Says:

    Dear Mr Leese
    This is blatent propaganda on behalf of the Labour party. The CSR will have no impact on public services - the fact that you can afford to waste money on a twitter zsar just shows that there is plenty of funding for all Council priorities

  11. Maria Says:

    How refreshing that at last you feel able to express your individual, political and ideological views. As a city Manchester is actually more resilient than it was not 10 years ago, but some 25 years ago. Many Councils in the UK have opted to embrace recent national political and economic changes, aiming to show a commitment to ‘towing the line’ and supporting national government policies (albeit primarily due to their own political composition).
    However, what I believe, is that by embracing these ‘changes’ and moving to models of commissioning they will become no more than contract managers of public services. The ‘pay off’ is that they will loose political power, respect of their national colleagues and be seen by communities as nothing more than gatekeepers of resources.
    I hope that MCC (albeit beneath the public ‘spin’) will continue to rise above this with stead fast determination and spirit. On a personal, irrespecitive of political debate, intellectual argument and discussion, some decisions are just fundamentally wrong and many of the recent national government directives fall into the plain old 'just wrong' category.

  12. Cllr Sue Murphy, Depuity Leader Says:

    As the Councillor responsible for Third Sector policy, I’d just like to make a couple of points – we’re currently reviewing our commissioning policy to make it easier for smaller organisations to bid, as well as streamlining monitoring to make it less onerous. Manchester City Council currently spends over £60 million with the third sector – a mix of grants and commissioning. It’s vital that when funding is reducing we work together to get the best for Manchester people. David Cameron may be promoting his idea of the Big Society, but in Manchester voluntary sector groups and residents have been working together with the Council to make Manchester better for years.

  13. Squidge Says:

    I read this morning that the government intends to sell off 50% of the forestland that is currently managed by the Forestry Commision. Will MCC support this plan or will it, as I would hope, stand by the Forestry Commision and help protect our already dwindling countryside?

  14. Ian Says:

    Why the complaints the country had a chance to vote in the elections and we now have a caring government.
    Who for the last 13 years spent money the country did'nt have and have left this country with the biggest debt in all european states.
    I myself don't think the cuts are enough, we should out source all council services like they are doing in Suffolk. There the leaders think by outsourcing all the work they will save the taxpayers on average 30% a year, I'm all for that.

  15. OFS resident Says:

    No Outsourcing, Save the trees and Spend Less.

  16. Paul Murphy, Manchester City Council Says:

    Manchester has a sustainable approach to procurement that is designed to be inclusive for organisations of all types including 3rd sector and small providers. The Council has taken a number of measures to turn sustainable procurement policy into practice and during that last three years has increased the level of engagement with suppliers to gain a greater understanding of the issues affecting them.

    Whilst there is still work to be done we have simplified process and documentation in a number of areas to help potential suppliers. All of our opportunities over £30k are advertised on the regional procurement portal known as the Chest which handles tenders electronically and reduces the administrative costs for suppliers bidding for work. All of our tenders are evaluated on a combination of quality and cost enabling suppliers to bring innovation and added value into their bids ending the perception that the whole of the award decision is based on cost. We regularly support and hold events engaging with smaller suppliers to explain how to do business with the council.

    We work in partnership with our key suppliers to encourage them to adopt a sustainable approach to their procurement to maximise the benefit to the Manchester economy through their own supply chain. This focus on the local economy will continue in the years to come to ensure a vibrant supply chain that achieves Value for Money in the widest sense for the communities of Manchester.

  17. Ian Says:

    It would be interesting to hear the council leaders idea with regard to David David Camerouns Big Society and its effect it might have on Manchester.

  18. ivor Says:

    "Transformation of the Central Library will improve customer access from the present 30% of the floor space to 70% enabling a doubling of visitor numbers to 2 million. Improved facilities will allow residents quicker access to much more information and a significantly improved experience in this much loved part of Manchester’s heritage."

    Nice to see priorities in order. At a time when thousands of jobs are at risk, at least we can be safe in the knowledge that there won't be a queue at the library. *sigh*

  19. Sara Todd Says:

    The City Council are happy to attend this event and offer a perspective on the challenges facing our communities in Ardwick and East Manchester.



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

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