Manchester City Council has today (Friday 8 March) agreed its budget for 2019/20, the final year of a three-year budget plan which was originally set out back in 2017.
That long term plan was shaped by a large-scale consultation exercise to understand what mattered most to them. Residents told us that the things they valued most were care and support for vulnerable people, helping families in poverty, tackling homelessness, improving access to jobs and training, upgrading our roads and ensuring our neighbourhoods are clean and well managed, plus leisure investment to keep people active and happy.
More than half of the Council’s budget – 51 per cent – is invested in caring for vulnerable adults and children, while around seven per cent of the total budget funds waste collection, disposal and recycling services.
While the Council remains on track to deliver the three-year plan and a balanced budget, it is under severe financial pressure as a result of ongoing government cuts, welfare changes and the ongoing impacts of austerity which have seen reduced funding combined with increased demand for services for the most in-need.
Since 2010, the Council’s spending power (as defined by Government) has been reduced by £179m -29 per cent - compared to an England average reduction of 16 per cent. Manchester has been hit the 10th hardest of any council in the country when it comes to spending power per person.
This spending reduction, allied with rising demand for services and inflation has meant the council has had to make savings of £372m since 2010, including £15m this year.
Extra government funding of more than £12m has been available, largely relating to social care services, but this is still not enough to meet rising demand and is not confirmed after 2019/20 which hinders long-term planning. The Council has also had to make use of one-off resources, including reserves, and make savings as well as supporting investment in key areas.
- £13.6m extra investment in children’s services – some £10.8m more than the £2.8m agreed in the original budget – to help support the city’s most vulnerable young people and ensure the city’s children get the best start in life.
- £11.4m extra investment in adult social care - £7.6m more than the £3.8m agreed in the original budget.
- £4.6m extra funding to support homelessness services, including £0.5m for enhanced enforcement in the private rented sector to support homeless families
- £1.5m proposed extra investment over three years in tackling anti-social behaviour in wards across the city, £420,000 of it in 2019/20
- £1.1m additional funding to help cushion the impact on individuals of welfare changes
- £0.5m on tackling flytipping
The Council's highways department is continuing its £100m investment programme with £12.7m in 2019/20 to keep our roads in good shape.
Many local authorities nationwide are increasing their element of bills by the maximum allowed – 4.5 per cent. But the Council is sticking to the previously proposed 3.49 per cent increase (1.99 per cent increase on general Council Tax with another 1.5 per cent adult social care precept) which was promised at the outset of the three-year budget period.
This is also in recognition that both Mayoral and policing precepts – which are added to the bill and fund non-council services – are increasing so the Council is doing what it can to balance maintaining services with minimising the impact on residents.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Every year our budget is a difficult balancing act as the impact of government cuts hits cities such as Manchester the hardest. Understanding what matters most to people in the city continues to play a crucial role in shaping how we do that. We will continue to listen to Manchester residents and, in difficult circumstances, continue to do the best that we can.
“But the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The amount brought in by Council Tax, for instance, is still less than we spend on adult social care alone.”
Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources, said: “It’s not just the Council which is under financial pressure as a result of austerity. We recognise that many Manchester people are too, especially those impacted by welfare changes such as universal credit. That’s why we have not only tried to keep Council Tax as low as we can while maintaining services but also put money aside to help cushion impacts on those who are finding it the hardest to make ends meet.”