Manchester City Council

Agenda item

Agenda item

Updated Financial Strategy and Directorate Business Plans 2019-20

The Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

This report provides an update on the Council’s financial position and sets out next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the draft budget proposals and Directorate Business Plan reports by this Committee.

Minutes:

Further to item NESC/18/52the Committee considered a report of the Chief Executive and the City Treasurer that provided an update on the Council’s financial position and set out next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the draft budget proposals and Directorate Business Plan reports by this Committee.

 

The Committee was invited to consider and make recommendations to the Executive on the budget proposals which were within the remit of this Committee and to comment on the Directorate Business Plans which had been designed to ensure the Council invested in the services that were valued by its residents, achieving both high quality services and outcomes for residents as well as a balanced budget.

 

The Committee considered in turn the Neighbourhoods Budget and Business Plan, the Strategic Development Budget and Business Plan and the Homelessness Budget and Business Plan.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·         Noting that despite continued austerity and years of unfair funding settlements the Council had remained committed to supporting the most vulnerable residents, and acknowledging that investments had been made in services to improve the lives of Manchester residents;

·         Support was expressed for the call to regulate bus services across Manchester, noting that areas of the city were underserviced and this had an impact on residents’ opportunities to access jobs and engage in the city’s cultural offer;

·         An explanation was sought regarding the highways budget underspend;

·         More needed to be done to tackle rogue landlords, noting that vulnerable tenants were often housed in premises that were not suitable;

·         Was there an intention to extend the Selective Licensing Scheme for private landlords;

·         Supporting the stated commitment given to building social and affordable housing, adding that this needed to be provided across the city;

·         Was the funding for homelessness services sustainable in future years;

·         Had there been an investment in staff within the homelessness teams to deal with the increased demand on this service;

·         Consideration needed to be given to developing a policy to stop placing homeless families into hotels;

·         Noting the programme to purchase houses to accommodate homeless families where would these properties be located and would those families be offered support;

·         Noting the costs associated with homelessness it was important to acknowledge the wider additional costs to a range of services, including Children's and Health services, that resulted from homelessness;

·         Was the number of asylum seekers placed in Manchester known and was the accommodation that they were provided with checked to ensure it was safe;

·         Welcoming the support offered to the Lord Mayor’s Homelessness Charity by Vincent Kompany whose testimonial dinner had raised £216K for good causes;

·         Clarification was sought as to where the proposed additional investment of £0.5m identified within the Neighbourhoods Directorate Business Planning: 2019-20 would be spent and how the impact of this investment would be measured;

·         What was the cost to the Council of removing fly tipping;

·         Consideration should be given to introducing CCTV at household waste and recycling centres to monitor vehicles and help identify fly tippers;

·         Consideration needed to be given to domestic bin sizes to support residents to dispose of their waste appropriately and encourage recycling; and

·         The bulky waste collection service needed to be promoted amongst residents, such as applying information stickers on bins.

 

The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport said that the budget proposals demonstrated that Manchester City Council was trying to mitigate the continued cuts to public services that had been experienced worst by Labour run authorities. She described that the city was growing with resulting demands on services, however funding had been reduced year on year. She described that the Council had listened to the views of residents throughout previous years’ budget consultation exercises and had striven to keep neighbourhoods clean and invested in repairing the highways network, acknowledging the point raised regarding the importance of having a safe and reliable road network for all users.  She explained the reasons for the Highways underspend in previous years and how this had been reprogrammed to deliver the programme of works.

 

The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration welcomed the support for the stated commitment to deliver social and affordable housing for Manchester residents and reiterated the points made regarding the unfair budget cuts year on year. She said that work was being developed to establish an enforcement team specifically for the Private Rented Sector, stating that they had issued over £1/4m in Civil Penalties to landlords to date and once recovered, this money would be reinvested back into the enforcement team.  She further informed the Committee that the Council had been successful in a bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for further funding for work to address Rogue Landlords.

 

The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration further commented that an evaluation of the Selective Licensing scheme would be undertaken and this would inform discussions in regard to if this scheme would be extended into other areas and due to the broadening of HMO licencing the team would be expanded to cover the new properties now covered by HMO licencing.

 

The Deputy Leader responded to the comments regarding the Homelessness Budget paper and commented that the increased rates of homelessness and rough sleeping was a societal issue and the impact of continued welfare reform and that the introduction of Universal Credit had had a significant impact. She said that the budget proposed was designed to protect and invest in services for the most vulnerable people in the city. She said there was a move away from housing families in hotels and work was ongoing to improve temporary accommodation.

 

The Deputy Leader commented that the intention was to buy houses that were suitable for families and these would be bought where they were available. She said that support was available for families who were homeless and support would be provided as they moved into those properties. In response to the comments raised regarding a further breakdown of the homelessness budget she said this would be provided to the Committee. The Head of Finance commented that there were elements of the homelessness budget that were non-recurring. 

 

The Strategic Lead for Homelessness said that in response to the increase in the number of people presenting as homeless the number of staff at the ‘front door’ had been increased to deal with the demand. She said that work was underway to deliver this service in other locations, including developing options with the Local Care Organisation. She described that work was being progressed to increase homelessness prevention, this included a team to deal with Section 21 eviction notices and intervening on behalf of residents and working with Private Landlords to prevent evictions. In response to the question regarding asylum seekers she advised that there was a process in place whereby the location of properties was approved and Manchester was not above the 1:200 limit.

 

The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated that flytipping was increasingly associated with commercial waste and criminality and consideration was being given as to how interventions, such as CCTV and installing physical barriers could be implemented to address this. He said Manchester remained committed to identifying and prosecuting those responsible for flytipping, commenting that Manchester had been responsible for 10% of all prosecutions nationally.

 

The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods said that work would commence to review the size of different bins in passageways to ensure they were sufficient and to promote recycling. He further commented that he would circulate the cost of removing flytipping to the Committee.

 

In regard to the comments made about the bulky waste collection service the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated that a way of maximising the benefits of this would be for residents to ‘pool’ their allowance, noting that apartment blocks have one free collection allocated per apartment and consideration would be given to how this service could be further promoted amongst residents.

 

Decision

 

The Committee;

 

1. Note the reports and recommend that the comments of the Committee are submitted to the 13 February 2019 meeting of Executive for consideration.

 

2. Request that the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods provide the Committee with a breakdown of where the proposed additional investment of £0.5m described in the Neighbourhoods Directorate Business Planning: 2019-20 would be spent and how the impact of this investment would be measured;

 

3. Request that the Deputy Leader provide a further breakdown of the Homelessness Budget.

 

[Councillor Appleby declared a personal and non prejudicial interest as her partner is employed by Biffa and Councillor Hughes declared a personal and non prejudicial interest as he is employed as a bus driver.]

 

Supporting documents: