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Labour Manchester - wasting money and cutting the front line

Labour-run Manchester City Council with a headcount of 23,340, and 17,715 full-time employees  has  announced job losses of 2,000, citing the savings they are required to find in 2011-2012 .

However those savings required reflect the generous funding levels for Manchester:

  • Highest annual funding per head in the area. Residents of Manchester City Council will continue to receive significantly the highest annual funding per head in the Greater Manchester area for 2011-12: £714, compared to £324 in Trafford, £305 in Stockport, £438 in Wigan and £384 in Bury.
  • Well-remunerated chief. Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, is one of the region’s best paid town hall bosses. Bernstein’s pay package, including expenses and pension contribution, is £232,000. By comparison, Prime Minister David Cameron earns £142,500. He has also said that pay is a local issue: ‘I don’t think this is an issue for discussion with central government. My salary, as chief executive for Manchester, is decided by Manchester city council and the elected leaders.’ 
  • Chosen not to share services. Manchester City Council has not followed the lead of councils around the country in sharing services with other local authorities. Significant savings can be found in back office functions - for example, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster have agreed in principle to merge their services, saving up to £30m.

Examples of council waste:

  • £150,000 statue erected just months before announcement of job losses - up to nine junior roles could have been funded for a year if money had not been wasted on the statue. Cllr Paul Shannon, Opposition deputy leader, said: "You have to question the council's priorities. Most people can think of better things to spend £150,000 of public money on."
  • £38,000 ‘Twitter and Facebook tsar’ hired amid announcement of job losses - one of three communications vacancies advertised by Manchester City Council in October, despite a recruitment freeze.
  • £120,000 for creative director - graphic designer Peter Saville will continue to receive a £120,000 salary to act as creative designer for Manchester City Council. The council, which up until now was responsible for paying Saville’s £10,000 monthly fee, is looking to reduce its share by 40 per cent, however, splitting the cost with project partners. That means the council will still be paying around £72,000 towards his annual fee.
  • Property pageant in South of France being attended by Manchester City Council. The council is attending a high-profile annual property event, MIPIM 2011, in Cannes. Other councils, including Liverpool City Council, have chosen not to attend this year because of budget constraints.

Grant Shapps said:

"Labour hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking. They admit there need to be cuts but can't say where they would fall. Ed Miliband needs to go back to his blank piece of paper and come back
with a plan.

"We have been quite clear that if councils cut chief exec pay, join back officer services, join forces to procure and cut out the crazy non-jobs, they can protect frontline services. Yet Manchester has a chief exec on a pay packet of nearly £100,000 more than the Prime Minister who won't lead from the front and take a pay cut, and a Twitter tsar on nearly £40,000.

"It's equally disappointing that the council has so far failed to put all expenditure over £500 online so it can exposed to full public scrutiny." 

Michael Fallon said:

 “Labour are clearly playing politics with people’s livelihoods. The announcement was cynically timed to coincide with the by-election, in full knowledge that a large number of those impacted by the news at Manchester City Council are voters”.

Last year I offered the Council leader, Sir Richard Leese ten ideas to save money:

1. If Sir Richard really wants to put the front line first why doesn't he stop hosting the Nuclear Free Local Authorities?

2.Or £8,000 on a paper telling older people to have sex more often?

3. Or translating documents on pigeon feeding into Urdu?

4. Or £1.4 million on sculptures then mothballed?

5. Or cease having a chauffeur? 

6. Or cutting back on the 383 staff employed by the Council on over £50,000 a year?

7. Or sell off that white elephant the Urbis building, where millions a year in subsidies are poured? 

8. Or wasting money on such projects as the £36.5 million Gateway Interchange bridge which has never been used?

9. Or spending money on a special new car park just for councillors?

10. Or spending £736,388 a yearon mobile phones? Perhaps a spot of benchmarking would be in order.


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