A Promise is a Promise

This will be my last blog before Christmas so in case I forget at the end, let me start by wishing all of my millions of readers Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Earlier this week government announced its provisional financial settlement for local councils for 2018/9.Sadly it was completely devoid of any good news and, in particular, there was no additional money to meet the funding crises in homelessness, adult care, and children’s social services. The only offer on the table was to allow Councils to increase Council Tax by another 1%. In Manchester this would only raise £1.4m which wouldn’t even cover the costs of the “ overspend “ on homelessness, never mind Adults and Children’s, and of course much of it would be being raised from people already struggling to make ends meet. The City Council won’t be taking up this offer. A year ago the Council consulted on and got support for a three year budget based on Council Tax increases of 4.99%, 4.99% ( these two including 3% for Adult Care ), and 1.99%. We will be sticking to that.
On a more pleasant note, yesterday evening I went along to the Whitworth Hall at the University of Manchester to present certificates to the “ Class of 17 “ from Loreto 6th Form College.  A packed hall represented the bright future this city has, and the results the college and its students achieved this year are fantastic - on one measure the best in the country. It is of course a Catholic college and that is strongly represented in an education that not only demands learning excellence but also a contribution to community as understood at a global level. However it also has a student body that does reflect the rich diversity of this city in both faith and ethnicity.
Earlier in the day I popped down the corridor to see the Coroner. The Coroners Service is a little bit of an oddity in that it is part of the Council but is accountable nationally for what it delivers. They, like everybody else, will be moving out of the Town Hall during the refurbishment but as their temporary accommodation won’t be ready until the summer, they will be the last people other than the project team and contractors working in the building. They have had a tough year with an ever increasing caseload but have a really good track record in responding sensitively to the strong emotions they often have to deal with. Many staff there had transferred from other parts of the Council but seemed to really enjoy being there and they won’t have to ever worry about running out of work to do.
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