Details of Manchester City Council’s budget options for 2020/21 have been published today ahead of them being considered by councillors early in the new year.
The current financial year, 2019/20, is the final year in the Council’s agreed three-year budget strategy for 2017/20. This strategy reflected priorities developed following a large-scale consultation with Manchester people about what they valued most.
These priorities were:
- Care and support for vulnerable people
- Taking action on family poverty and giving young people the best start in life
- Tackling homelessness
- Supporting people into jobs and training
- Keeping roads and neighbourhoods in good shape
- Supporting parks and leisure to help keep people active and happy
We will be sticking to these established priorities in the budget for 2020/21, with the council's commitment to Manchester becoming a zero carbon city by 2038 also integral to the proposals.
However, as we are only being told our funding allocation for one year this time – and there is considerable uncertainty on the national funding plan beyond 2020/21 pending the result of a national spending review - we will be setting a one year budget while continuing to plan for the next three years to enable us to respond to any challenges.
We await the final Finance Settlement from central government but reasonable assumptions based on provisional information we have already received point to some limited increases in Government funding and other resources but not enough to address the continuing pressures on services, especially following the austerity measures imposed since 2010/11.
The budget position is to consult on a 1.99% increase in the Council’s element of Council Tax with the option of a further 2% precept to contribute toward the cost of Adult Social Care, for which government funding is not keeping pace with need. Each two per cent increase would raise around £3.2m £3.3m. A consultation on the proposed Council Tax increase will take place from 6 January to 2 February 2020.
The Council’s directorates have identified savings and efficiency options of around £2.8m to help meet ongoing budget pressures.
The Adults Social Care, Children’s Services and Homelessness directorates are not being asked to make savings in recognition of the pressures they are under. Indeed, extra investment is being made in these areas. For example, an extra £22.8m is being invested in adult social care budgets in 2020/21 to help maintain services at their current level. And an in excess of £8m to cope with demands on children’s care services.
Total net savings of £2.837m, once increased pressures have been met, have been identified by the council’s three other directorates (Corporate Core, Neighbourhood Services and Growth and Development). This money is being found through a combination of efficiencies, income generation and innovation, and savings should not impact on frontline services to residents.
Overall, the council's revenue budget for 2020/21 is expected to be £647.7m £647.5m compared to £621.5m in 2019/20.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Planning our budget when we haven’t had a final financial settlement yet is a challenging task but we have an established set of priorities, set with residents, and a clear vision of where we want to be as a city and how we want to get there which gives us a strong platform to continue to move forwards.”
Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance, said: “We’ve seen significant cuts to our funding since austerity began in 2010/11 with little sign of this abating. At the same time the financial pressures on our services, especially those for the most vulnerable, is continuing to rise – also as a result of austerity and benefit changes.
“Through careful planning, prudent budgeting and innovation we have just about kept our heads above water while continuing to invest in the future of the city. We will stay focused on the priorities that Manchester people expect but the challenges don’t get any easier.”
The Council’s Executive will consider recommendations on the budget from scrutiny committees when it meets on 15 January 2020. The Executive will agree its final budget recommendations on 12 February 2020. These will then be examined at a special budget scrutiny meeting on 24 February before the final budget is set at the full Council meeting on 6 March 2020.