Manchester City Council

And now for Something Completely Different

There is barely a day goes by without a new story in both national and local media about another set of public sector job cuts. The government are pinning their hopes on private sector job growth at a faster rate than public sector job losses so yesterday's news that the UK's economy contracted by half a percent in the last quarter would have made very gloomy reading for them. Of course that level of economic performance is not evenly spread across the country and again yesterday we had our monthly look at how Manchester's local economy is doing.

Our economic barometer looks at a number of indicators including unemployment and claimants data, city centre retail performance, hotel occupancy rates, and number of major planning applications submitted. Unemployment is still significantly higher than two years ago, but in December was 3% lower than the previous month, and 6% better than a year ago. Long-term unemployment amongst the 18-24 age range is more than 18% lower than a year ago but we do have major concerns for when Future Jobs Fund comes to an end. City Centre retail was booming in November compared both two previous years and the national figures. Underpinning this is that over the last decade or so, the Manchester economy has become more diverse and more resilient.

We also had a look at the most recent Greater Manchester wide members quarterly survey carried out by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. That also showed promising signs of recovery for service industries and for manufacturing but with one notable exception. Construction still appears to be struggling and as a very labour intensive industry that will continue to have a negative impact on jobs.

These are only indicators but do allow us to take a snapshot view of the Manchester economy which appears to be back into growth and out performing the national average. Might be clutching at straws but will take good news where-ever I can get it at the moment.

Make a comment

There are 30 responses to “And now for Something Completely Different”

  1. The Crumpsall Crimper Says:

    If we keep improving throughout the Summer, the Tories will probably change the venue of the Annual Conference just to kick us in the teeth again!.

  2. nath Says:

    Sir Richard, please remove this entry. I fear if Mr Osbourne reads it he will take more money from us.

  3. Heartbroken Says:

    It seems, Sir Richard, now desperately trying to change the subject. Yes I understand he is bored. It is not his or his senior officers’ problem. They are not losing anything, not even a penny. I am sure they will be rewarded with a pay rise for all the hard work they have done in the process of getting rid of the low paid workers.

    But Sir Richard please go back to your previous blog and try to give us some answers, instead of blaming the central government (at least they had the decency of taking a pay cut)

  4. Hummingbird Says:

    I really feel that Westminster Village has little or no understanding of the North. I'm not in favour of devolution in the UK, but recently I have been reconsidering this. A Northern Assembly perhaps? Going back to comments on the previous blog I am very much in favour of an increased severance package for long service to the council. Why should someone miss out just because they were never lucky enough to get a decent scaled job. I was nearly in tears to hear that people I have great affection for and have been lovely to work with have not got an offer they truly deserve.

  5. Richard Leese Says:

    Sorry Heartbroken, I will obviously return to the Council's own budget position on a regular basis but this blog has never been just about the internal workings of the Council. My job as Leader carries a responsibility for the city as a whole and I intend to continue to use the blog to talk to Manchester citizens, those who work for the Council and those who don't, and to talk to a wider audience - this is after all on the world wide web - about things I'm involved in to do with that bigger picture.

  6. OldFella Says:

    That noise you can hear is Sir Richard banging his head against a brick wall.

  7. Heartbroken Says:

    No OldFella, you need a hearing aid. That noise is “we banging our head against a brick wall in desperation.”

  8. Says:

    Great.So the private sector in Manchester isn't doing as badly as the public sector.Good to know when I'm out searching for a job in March...but I have to say that Sir Richard's information regarding local business is laid out in a much clearer way than the future for his own workforce!As someone who has been involved in a "service redisign" for over two and a half years,then served VR notices-and now not even sure about whether ther will even be a service to go back to if I stay and gamble on M-people-I find the lack of communication,clarity,empathy and HONESTY from senior management to be extremely dissappointing.You are asking people to make decisions on their future before March,based on nothing but heresay,and a "roulette wheel" approach to staying or they opt out and take the money,or chance they get made redundant-or stick it out,go on M-people and then get made redundant in three months.. It's like the X-files trying to get information about what's actually happening above....It's almost impossible to get a straight answer from anyone..everyone is too scared to look like they're "out of step" and ask these questions that the hard working people in the Council deserve answers to.

  9. LeafTalk UK Says:

    With £3.5 Million being made available to the Greater Manchester region as part of the Plugged-In Places scheme, why are we not seeing anything on the Council website or literature regarding this? Why not create jobs for local residents by creating a council led infrastructure development team training installers, maintenance people and admins? MCC seems to be dragging its feet whilst Boris Johnson is fast tracking the process in London and making abig deal about it. Manchester should be encouraging investment in the green sector as the subsidies are making it one of the growth industries in an otherwise ailing economy.

    How's that for something completely different?

  10. OldFella Says:

    I agree that MCC staff are being asked to make quick decisions about the rest of their lives based on insufficient PERSONAL information about their future likely job roles, salary, or work location, or even if they will have a job. For very many MCC employee there is simply no choice but to reject their VS/VER offer because to volunteer to 'retire' on offered terms would leave them in real poverty, and with little prospect of finding new work any time soon. Stay, and you'll queue for a spin of the 'wheel of fortune' at some point, it's true.

    HOWEVER, answers to questions some MCC staff want from the Council in order for them to make a more informed decision... ARE there even satisfactory answers available for EVERYONE at this time??? No! It's simply not possible.

    The VERY massive cash saving desperately needed to be met by MCC, not by choice, and by 31st March if possible, requires the current VER/VS process happens NOW. How can this HUGE money saving be achieved by the Council differently, without going into summer and even much later to have even SOME of these answers ready for SO MANY staff across ALL of the Council's diverse services??? Mind boggling to even consider. Yet EVERY month going into 2011/2012's budget with too few job losses will cost MCC many more £Millions in salaries/costs that it simply cannot afford. Anyone disagree?

    Ah, yes... MCC could simply issue mass CR notices, pay out minimum statutory redundancy payments, offer no employee any VS/VER incentive at all, and thus save MCC even more money as quickly as it liked. It isn't doing that. MCC is being as fair as it can be, to as many staff as possible, within affordibility.

    And this, the Leader's Blog, is a PUBLIC Blog, NOT a Council staff Blog. Many (Council Tax payers), including those unemployed and unable to find new work and skint, might consider MCC's current VS/VER scheme to be 'very fair' in these unique circumstances.

    This situation is what it is.

    Imperfect? Yes! But what we have, like it or not, is probably the very fairest VR process the Leader could get agreement on and implement relatively quickly, in a wholly sh*t situation entirely not of MCC's making. The Leader is trying his best to deal with this blooming awful crisis within legal, financial and statutory consultation restraints. Other posters may have a different view, fair enough. Seems to me there is no absolute 'right or wrong' in this horrid situation. But I'm sure that we (satff) can express our opinions in the Leader's PUBLIC Blog politely and constructively, bearing in mind the wider (non-staff) readership.

  11. Pfft Says:

    I'm pleased for the city wide private sector economy, however like many employed by the City Council feel extremely let down not by the scale of the cuts (which are totally out of your control) but by the way things are (or aren't) being communicated effectively from top to bottom (which is in your control).

    You're a decent man, trying to do the best you can, but bear in mind that you have 12,000 decent people supporting you in your position, and those people expect and deserve better than communication via the press.

  12. thischarmingmanc Says:

    Heartbroken – you really need to get a grip. Sir Richard is blaming central government for the very simple reason that the crisis this Council and many others across the country currently face is entirely central government’s fault.

    Ministers and MPs haven’t taken a pay-cut, they have decided not to give themselves a pay increase – something that Manchester City Council workers (at all levels) haven’t had for two years now.

    You keep banging on about how it’s the lowest paid workers that will suffer in all this but the fact is these cuts will effect staff at all levels in the authority and I’ll wager that it will be middle management that will suffer the most.

    The way in which the extent of the cuts was disseminated to staff a couple of weeks ago was badly managed, I agree, but apart from that what more can MCC really do to try and make this as painless as possible?

    That’s not a rhetorical question by the way. You’re in charge, what would you do or have done differently?

  13. Another worried MCC employee Says:

    @Heartbroken - There's a limit to what Richard can say until it's been agreed by Exec. The time table has been laid out and now we have to wait. There's only so long we can keep going over the same points.

    I for one was glad to read something 1) a little different and 2) with a tiny grain of optimism.

  14. MadasaHatter Says:
    Totally agree - the lack of information is unacceptable. It is difficult to know what to do when both options appear to point to long term unemployment. It's a gamble either way. I personally am terrified about not being able to pay my mortgage and losing my home. This situation is causing undue stress to staff and their families.

  15. Laura Says:

    100% agree with Confused . . . .Sir Richard you are being let down by a significant number of Senior Managers who are claiming that they don't know whats happening. I can't take a life changing decision about VS with no information about what is likely to be a future for the service I work in. I love my job and am passionate about doing my best for Manchester - it's my city and and I have always in the nearly 30 years I have worked here considered it a privilege to do so however the way some groups of staff are being treated is simply wrong. I understand completely that this blog is about the wider impact of your role and that of the City Council but given the current concerns of staff - the vast majority of whom are also Manchester residents why not have an internal facing blog or q and q for staff ?

  16. Oscar Milde Says:

    How can your managers tell you about the impact to your service when the budget split for next year hasn't been decided yet? No service manager knows what will happen to their service yet, would you prefer to make a decision on your future based on what could be an ill-informed guess?

  17. Heartbroken Says:

    @ OldFella
    – Do you really think we don’t understand that? We do, but we are now more scared than those unemployed people out there. They have nothing to loose but we may end up losing everything and we don’t even have time to think it over or discuss it with family. It seems you are one of the senior officers, hence not worried that much. But is old fella. All this harsh language that people using here is not because they don’t understand, its happening because they are kept in dark. No transparency. Be open. Let us know what’s happening. We are all in it together. So share with us and let us know.
    Like Laura said have a internal blog for us and give us tell us, be open. Silence is a very dangerous thing. It creates rumour and also frustrations.

    I know we have no other option at the moment. But please treat us equally and like adults. BE OPEN, keep us informed and be sympathetic. Just remember: not only our job, we may end up losing everything.
    Thank you

  18. Oneforall Says:

    I'm not an economist but surely that growth will be threatened when 2,000 council workers lose their jobs and therefore their spending power. Thanks OldFella for representing the general feeling so well. I accept the severity of the cuts is down to Tory ideology but MCC spending had become arrogant. Why is Peter Saville still on the payroll?

  19. Coulrophobia Says:

    Sir Richard in your reply you said “I will obviously return to the Council's own budget position on a regular basis but this blog has never been just about the internal workings of the Council. My job as Leader carries a responsibility for the city as a whole and I intend to continue to use the blog to talk to Manchester citizens, those who work for the Council and those who don't, and to talk to a wider audience - this is after all on the world wide web - about things I'm involved in to do with that bigger picture.”

    It is glad to see that you say your job carries a responsibility for the city as a whole - any reason them why the council you lead is letting the city down? You are risking the life chances of everyone in the city, council employees, citizens and the private businesses you seem to worship and adore (seemingly at odds with the labour party national leadership) for this and future generations.

    I like many others are not sure how well you are doing on reaching the wider audience though with a less than 13% turn out in Baguley last week.

    Maybe corp comms should have a look at users demographics.

    Still no answers to other posts from other users though - so maybe it might be a saving to shut the blog down. Save MCC some money in this time of crisis?

  20. REDSTEVE57 Says:


    How dare you presume that because someone is unemployed they have nothing to lose!!

    Most are desperate to have a job, most have already lost their pride and some will lose their dignity through no fault of their own.

    Yes there are some scroungers out there that don’t want to work, but they are in the minority.

    You worry about paying your mortgage if you lose your job, most unemployed worry about the basics in life, feeding and clothing their families because they have no jobs and most have no prospects of one, and those prospects are even worse now that Public Services are being decimated with the predicted loss of 140,000 positions nationally.

    So don’t fall into the Tories trap of playing the blame game and trying to pin everything on the weakest and poorest sections in the “Big Society”. Point the finger at the real culprits the ConDems. They are the architects of your current predicament. So don’t be a hypocrite give the majority of unemployed some respect and treat them with equality as you ask to be treated equally in your blog.

  21. lgcookiegirl Says:

    @redsteve57 - thank you for putting that so well. I couldn't believe what had been said.

    And @Oldfella - do you do any work at all?

  22. Heartbroken Says:

    @REDSTEVE57: Here we go, typical socialist attitude. Please try to understand what I am saying first. I am blaming the unemployed. I am with them. They have lost everything (in financial term) and we are about to join them too. Until now I was a lot luckier than them, with a roof over my head and the ability to provide food for my kid. But things are changing and therefore I am worried. I am sure no one deserves to be in that situation not even you.

  23. Lando Calrisian Says:


    “Most are desperate to have a job, most have already lost their pride and some will lose their dignity through no fault of their own.”

    Who is making presumptions now. My partner was made redundant, she wanted a job and sought help from the government but none came. To pay for her stamps she had to bring in piles of evidence. Regulars there, popped their head in, got full money and continues to do nothing. I know many people without jobs who have a great deal of pride – I think that you’re transposing your sense of guilt onto others. What do you mean by losing their dignity through no fault of their own? Did they mess about at school, did they turn up to job interviews when require, did they try to do as many jobs as possible to make ends meet? There are too many variables to make a sweeping statement of this sort. Saying things like this suggests that somehow society is to blame. If you want a job, you go out and keep on looking until you find one. This is not a cursory nod at the internet. This is hand delivering CV’s to as many companies as possible.

    “Yes there are some scroungers out there that don’t want to work, but they are in the minority.”

    What evidence do you base this on?

    “You worry about paying your mortgage if you lose your job, most unemployed worry about the basics in life”

    Do they? How so? I can think of many instances where having a Sky television subscription and broadband was placed higher in a list of priorities than the “basics of life”. I’ve walked past many dole offices where people were outside smoking, are cigarettes a basic in life. You make having a mortgage sound like some kind of statement of being enriched when really what most people would call a life investment as well as a small legacy for your children.

    The reality is that the thing that many people have WORKED really HARD for are at jeopardy. There are safeguards for the unemployed. This suits many of us. I think it is absolutely wrong that you would deride concern for security as some kind of luxury and try suggest shame in caring for yourself and your family.

  24. Bruce Campbell Says:

    Thank you Mr Leese and MCC for the excellent severance offer. I intend to spend time with my son, go on holiday, improve the house, then find a new job closer to home. One door may be closing but another is about to open. Have a great weekend everyone.

  25. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    @ Lando Calrisian

    You seem to presume that I am 1 of the 2 million and rising (outside Manchester) unemployed because I had the audacity to defend them. I am employed and have been with MCC for over a quarter of a century and I have a mortgage and I am in as much peril as all of the MCC staff of losing my home. So I have no sense of guilt to transpose on others, just belief in my fellow citizens, employed or not!!
    The difference is, compared to some, I know who to blame and where my feeling of standing on the edge of a precipice emanated from, the ConDem alliance and no one else.

    You ask where I get my information to support what I say. Government statistics and analysis of trends in unemployment studies.

    You bemoan that some unemployed have broadband? Is it not the Governments policy to have accessible home based broadband in every home in Britain? I would presume that this includes the unemployed.


    Yes it is my typical Socialist attitude, an attitude and belief that I will go to my grave defending. If it wasn’t for Socialists and their ideals and attitudes you wouldn’t have the safety net of the welfare state if you are made redundant, you wouldn’t have free at the point access health care and you wouldn’t even be offered voluntary severance due to the hard fought battles from us Socialists that forced employment rights on Government.

    By the way have you had a notification that you are to be made compulsory redundant? You seem to be resigned to the fact that you will be when there is 2 voluntary schemes still available, VER and VS. When the assessment of how many have applied and left will we know what the next steps will be.

  26. steve Says:

    welcome to the real world, how will we struggle on with only 10,000 council employees, i cant say workers, its well known no one actually works , happy job hunting

  27. OldFella Says:

    I do my online browsing and commenting AFTER work, as the timestamps would indicate if you had access to them. You have no idea what I do for the public, or the stress I endure day in day out, so your comment at me is irritating, and the usual 'holier than thou'.

    Front line staff who daily interface with the public, and where home visits are the norm are regularly NOT surprised at the rather expensive luxuries which some, not in conventional work let's say, are able to surround themselves with. Not just cigarettes. Or access to computers and broadband - that is almost a 'right' now as you suggest. So my evidence is empiricle, even if not in the government data. Stuff I can't afford to own on an earned public service wage. Can I suggest to you that at least some 'poor people' are creative in materialising additional income? Fact. You think this is a small irrelevant minority? It's folks 'like us' have absolutely no idea how it's affordable, and dare not ask... we're used to being paid a regular salary and spending only what we can afford in that budget...

    Some excellent comments in this Blog.

    The idea of a staff accessible forum of some kind, very interesting idea. With one concern, possibly. Since well before Xmas I've heard any number of 'kosher' rumours, some purporting to be from management, some from Union members, 'in the know, nod and a wink', all of which turned out to be absolute 'boll*cks'. Some of these 'rumours' only heightened anxiety, not pacify. So it'll need careful moderating. But a MCC staff forum might be a good vehicle for providing current 'kosher' information from various areas of MCC, including Strategic Heads, with allowable allied discussion. Staff do need to be better informed much more quickly, and allowed an opportunity to 'speak up', let off steam, and help identify areas of common staff anxiety.

    For me, I'll be honest, my main concern after end of March IF my VER application is approved, (I'm very anxiously waiting), is to be turfed out of an 'institution' that is public service, albeit voluntarily. 'Working' has been my life for near enough 40 years. I don't want to make a complete severance, not quite yet... so HELP! Even if it's online, I'd really appreciate some ongoing communication with my peer ex-MCC colleagues, and also those wonderful colleagues and friends still left working. So IF there is an (even experimental) online MCC staff forum set up, can the 'ex-MCC' but with an ongoing interest in what is going on have some means of access, please? Like use our MCC personal numbers as verification ID?

  28. alfiemoon Says:

    Suggestion! If there has to be compulsory redundancies. Can you start with the staff who live outside Manchester starting from the TOP and work down?

  29. Steve A Says:

    Why pick of people who live outside Manchester, when I started 31 years ago I lived in Manchester , I now live outside I am at a loss as to why you are picking on people just on where they live

  30. Aaron H Says:


    Your use of the word 'interface' in your post indicates an affinity for MCC corporate jargon. Reveal yourself!



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