Agenda item

Agenda item

The Councils Updated Financial Strategy and Budget Reports 2020/21

The Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer


This report provides an update on the Council’s overall financial position and sets out the next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the draft Budget proposals and Budget report by this Committee. Each Scrutiny Committee will receive a budget report aligned to its remit, showing the main changes proposed to delivery and funding. The services to be considered by each scrutiny committee are shown at table four. The report also outlines the officer proposals for how the Council could deliver a balanced budget for 2020/21, the details of which will be discussed at the relevant scrutiny committees.



(Cllr Flanagan in the Chair during consideration of the Homelessness Budget 2020/21 report)


The Committee considered a report of the Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, which provided an update on the Council’s overall financial position and set out the next steps in the budget process. In doing so, the report outlined Officer proposals for how the Council could deliver a balanced budget for 2020/21.


In conjunction to the above, the Committee also received and considered the draft Council Business Plan for 2020/21, the Neighbourhoods Directorate Budget Report 2020/21 and the Homelessness Budget 2020/21.


Officers highlighted that the 2020/21 budget would be a one year roll over budget. It would reflect the fact the Council had declared a climate emergency and would also continue to reflect the priorities identified in the previous three-year budget strategy.


Taken together, the reports illustrated how the directorate would work to deliver the Our Corporate Plan and progress towards the vision set out in the Our Manchester Strategy.


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


·         Welcoming Zero Carbon Manchester being identified as a priority within the Council Business Plan 2020-21, and what funding had been allocated to support this important activity;

·         In recognition of the Climate Emergency declared by Council in July 2019 could money from the General Fund Reserve be used to support climate change activity;

·         When setting future budgets, reports needed to be explicit in how budgets and plans were addressing carbon emissions;

·         Welcoming the reported increase in the rates of domestic recycling;

·         What was the cost to the Council to deal with illegal fly tipping;

·         What was being done to address fly tipping and had the investment to tackle fly tipping (£500k) as part of the 2019/20 budget setting process achieved value for money;

·         Clarification was sought in regard to the Highways Capital Programme for 2022/23;

·         All wards needed targeted enforcement action by Neighbourhood Teams;

·         A request that the outcome of the independent BAME staff review be shared with the Committee;

·         A Member called for additional support and investment for Wythenshawe district centre;

·         What was being done to reduce the spend on temporary accommodation to support people experiencing homelessness;

·         What was being done to ensure temporary accommodation was safe and suitable for people;

·         An update was sought on the proposals to purchase properties to accommodate homeless families;

·         Recognising the impact of increased workloads on those staff employed to support homeless people;

·         The need to reduce the numbers of families housed in temporary accommodation outside of the area, commenting that families received different levels of support depending on where they were placed;

·         Welcoming the inclusion of Social Workers located within the Rough Sleepers Team to support teams and helping vulnerable residents;

·         Concern was expressed that the funding arrangements to tackle homelessness from central government were piecemeal and precarious; and

·         Consideration needed to be given as to how budget information was presented and the narrative clear to ensure the correct information was relayed to residents. 


The Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods), in response to a question from a Member confirmed that the options presented were for setting a 12 month budget for the Council and the Neighbourhoods Directorate was not losing any funding and there were no proposed reduction in staff posts or services.


In response to the comments regarding climate change and allocated resources, the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) stated that the Our Corporate Plan priorities had been refreshed for 2020-21 to reflect the city’s zero carbon ambitions and declaration of the climate emergency. She described that whilst no specific additional funding was specifically identified in the report, she reassured the Committee that work was ongoing within existing resources.  


The Executive Member for Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport responded to the comment that information on the resources and finances allocated to support climate change activity, referenced the £300k allocated to City Policy to support this work and described how outcomes would be measured should be report by stating that there was a lot of work already underway to address the issue of carbon emissions. She stated this would continue to be reported to the Committee and she welcomed the challenge presented by Members. She further commented that the Climate Change Subgroup would also continue to monitor progress and activity against this important issue.


The Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources acknowledged the comment from the Chair regarding the use of the General Fund Reserve to support climate change and reducing emissions activity. He stated that consideration would be given to this.


In response to the questions regarding activities to address fly tipping and the use of the additional £500k investment, the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods informed the Committee that this had been used to fund additional Enforcement Officer posts to undertake a programme of business inspections to ensure appropriate and sufficient waste management arrangements were in place; investment in additional CCTV cameras; target hardening projects, to design out fly tipping hotspots by installing physical measures to deter fly-tippers and supporting environmental improvement projects. He stated that this activity was undertaken across all of the city and not just in the city centre. He referred Members to the report that had been submitted to the October 2019 meeting that provided detail of the activities to improve waste, recycling and street cleansing.


In response to the question regarding Highways Capital Programme for 2022/23, the Head of Network Management stated that the future funding arrangements from central government were still to be confirmed so they were currently unable to provide any further details. He said that a review of the benefits realised from the five year highways investment programme would be undertaken, and the findings of this would inform the business case for future investment.


In response to the point raised regarding Wythenshawe District Centre, the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated that he would feed the comments from the Member back to the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration. 


The Chair informed the Committee that the independent BAME staff review would be scrutinised by the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee. She requested that when the report was made available that this be shared with the Members of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee.


In response to the questions arising from consideration of the Homelessness Budget 2020/21 report, the Deputy Leader stated that the Council was still awaiting confirmation of the financial arrangements to deliver support for homeless people in Manchester. She stated that currently the financial position indicated that the service would be £800k worse off than last year, despite the increased demand on services. She called for an end to Section 21 Notices and increased security for tenants within the private rented sector. She further paid tribute to all of the staff working in the homeless service for their continued dedication, compassion and hard work to support some of the most vulnerable residents in Manchester.


The Director of Homelessness stated the most effective method to reduce the reliance on temporary accommodation was to invest and deliver homeless prevention services. He made reference to a range of prevention initiatives, including the work of the Section 21 team that was considered by Committee at their meeting of 19 June 2019, the work of the Private Rented Sector team within the Homelessness Department work to source settled accommodation for homeless households, the move towards delivering homeless advice in local neighbourhoods and the recent changes to the Housing Allocations Policy.


The Director of Homelessness further informed the Committee that currently 21 properties had been purchased to house homeless families, with a further 16 at conveyance stage. He said that a cost benefit analysis of this approach would be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of this model. He also stated that the ambition was to bring homeless residents housed in temporary accommodation out of area back into Manchester, noting the disruption out of area placements could have on people and their families. In response to the quality and standards of temporary accommodation that was used to house people, he stated that properties were inspected by teams of officers and information on this had been shared previously with the Committee. He further advised that the contract for temporary accommodation would be reviewed and standards and quality would inform this review.




The Committee recommend that their comments be submitted for consideration by the Executive at their meeting of 15 January 2020.


[Councillor Appleby declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest as her partner is employed by Biffa and Councillor Igbon declared a prejudicial interest and withdrew from the meeting during consideration of the Homelessness Budget report.]


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