Manchester City Council has today (Friday 6 March) agreed its budget for the financial year ahead.
The budget priorities are guided by a large-scale consultation which informed the previous budget in which residents were asked what mattered most to them.
Manchester people told the Council the things they valued most were care and support for vulnerable people, helping families in poverty, supporting people out of homelessness, improving access to jobs and training, and maintaining and improving our roads – with leisure investment to help keep people active and happy.
On top of this, a new priority has emerged which will run through everything the Council does – radically reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases as it works towards the city’s ambitious goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038 or earlier – at least 12 years ahead of the national target. The Council declared a climate emergency last year and will shortly unveil an action plan to halve its own carbon emissions in the next five years alone, as well as working with partner organisations and residents to ensure everyone can contribute to this mission.
Council Tax only accounts for around a quarter of the Council’s income and central government funding is not keeping pace with increasing pressures as the number of vulnerable people grows after a decade of austerity.
In fact the amount raised each year in Council Tax does not even cover the cost of adult social care.
So, the Council will charge the 2% adult social care precept which the government allows towards care costs, with a further 1.99% increase to its element of Council Tax to protect and invest in services.
In the year ahead the Council will spend more than half of its revenue budget – 54.6% on adult social care (£224.28m, 33.7%) and services for children (£139.17m, 20.9%) A further £15.94m (2.4%) is being spent on helping people who are homeless.
Waste collection, recycling and street cleaning (£50.33m, 7.6%), transport (£40.96m, 6.2%), neighbourhood services (£14.08m, 2.1%), highways and pavements (£14.93m, 2.2%), libraries, galleries and culture (£14.02, 2.1%), growth and development (£8.17m, 1.2%) and parks, leisure and events (£7.71m, 1.3%.)
The corporate core, services which support the council’s work, the revenue and benefits service and other spending such as reserves or emergency funds make up the rest.
While some savings have had to be found, largely through efficiencies, none of these have come from the adult social care, children’s services or homelessness directorates in recognition of the pressures they face.
The programme of investment in the city’s roads and pavements, including pothole repairs, is continuing. This includes improvements to some of the city’s most congested roads to help traffic flow better and pollute less, alongside investment in walking and cycling infrastructure as well as supporting public transport. Tackling flytipping and litter is another high priority.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The Council is responsible for a huge range of vital services. Delivering them and continuing to invest in the future requires a careful balancing act but we are confident that the priorities in this budget are aligned with the priorities of the people who live here.”
Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance, said: “We don’t want to raise Council Tax but, in common with many councils across the country, years of austerity and underfunding have left us with no option in order to keep delivering services that support those most in need as well as providing the day-to-day services which every household benefits from whether it’s collecting the bins and cleaning streets, running parks and libraries or looking after roads and pavements.”