Manchester City Council is warning that without extra Government support it is on course to overspend its budget for this financial year by around £20m.
Since the budget was set there have been several significant changes that have affected the Council’s financial position including soaring inflation (especially for utilities), global supply shocks, and a higher than budgeted for pay award offer for employees.
On top of this the Council has lost income, especially from car parking, as people tighten their belts.
The forecast overspend, set out in reports to the Council’s Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee and Executive this month, is mainly due to the higher-than-expected pay offer (£9.5m), increased utilities inflation (£3.9m), price inflation (£3.9m) and other pressures largely relating to reduced income (£3.4m.)
It should be noted that the Council’s services are operating within budget – reflecting the positive impact of investment in prevention strategies over recent years – and the projected overspend relates purely to inflationary pressures linked to the cost of living crisis.
Officers are working to reduce the overspend by identifying in-year efficiencies and working with suppliers to manage inflation pressures.
In addition to this year’s predicted overspend, the Council is facing a significant and growing budget shortfall for 2023/24 onwards. Budget cuts and savings options are currently being developed to be considered initially by scrutiny committees in November.
Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig will be writing to the Government calling for extra urgent support to help cope with these rising costs.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Finance, said: “We are a financially well-run Council but it has simply not been possible to absorb the extra inflation costs we are facing through prioritisation, belt-tightening or other measures.
“We had already set aside a prudent £29m in the budget for energy, prices and pay but the national economic picture has meant it is not enough. Equally, while we support a fair pay increase for our hard-working staff, what is now being proposed is well in excess of what we could have reasonably predicted when the budget was set.
“And the ongoing impacts of the Covid pandemic, as well as the cost of living crisis, on our income are still being felt.
"We urge the Government to recognise the severe unprecedented financial pressures that local authorities are facing when it holds its emergency budget in September and commit to providing extra funding to meet soaring inflation costs. It’s vital that there’s more help for households – but it’s just as important that the Government does the right thing and essential services which councils provide are properly supported during this crisis."