Manchester City Council

Council Tax - a different perspective

Next week the Council’s Executive Committee will meet to make recommendations to the Council on the 2018/19 Council budget, including the Council’s share of the Council Tax bill it collects on behalf of itself, the Police, and the Greater Manchester Mayor including the Fire Service. This week Scrutiny Committees have been looking at the proposals that are particularly relevant to them.

Last year we consulted on and agreed a three year budget running to 2020 so this is mainly an updating process. There are though some important proposals for increasing expenditure on homelessness, Adult Care, and children’s services. The Council tax bill coming through the letter box is nobody’s favourite bit of correspondence and although it only raises a relative small proportion of the Council’s total expenditure, without it those vital services mentioned above alongside the universal services everybody benefits from including parks, libraries and leisure centres, could not be afforded.
By coincidence, I spent an hour and a half earlier this week at the Council’s Revenue and Benefits unit, the bit that collects both Council Tax and Business Rates, as well as administering the welfare benefits the Council is still responsible for. Two of the frontline staff there gave me a great guided tour ( although I will have to go back to finish it ). Staff there recognise the need for the Council to collect as much as it can to pay for essential services, even more so after seven years of cuts, but they also take very seriously their responsibility to help people avoid getting into the sort of money problems that can lead to court action, possibly eviction or worse.
I’m not going to go through detailed cases but one example I was shown was where through their attention to detail and willingness to question they helped prevent somebody running up massive debts and to get their finances on track. Yes they’re collecting our money but they do it very professionally and with genuine compassion.

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

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