Manchester City Council Leader appeals to Chancellor for funding

The leader of Manchester City Council has urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt to make sufficient pledges to council funding ahead of the Autumn Statement.

In an open letter to Jeremy Hunt, Council Leader Bev Craig called on the Conservative frontbencher to make funding “sufficient, sustainable and strategic”.

The announcement comes as the government is set to announce its tax and spending plans for the year ahead later this month in one of the key financial events of the political calendar.

Craig said: “In your recent visit to Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference you will have encountered a confident, ambitious, forward-looking and vibrant place.

“But what might not have been so immediately apparent is that this is also a city where we are continuing to grapple with long-term structural inequalities and some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country.”

In the letter, the council leader cited numerous issues which have led to Manchester City Council having significantly less money than in 2010.

She said: “Government funding cuts and unfunded pressures such as inflation and population growth have left us having to find £443million of savings since 2010.

“Councils as a whole have seen their average spending power reduced by more than a quarter in this period in real terms – but those with higher levels of deprivation have been disproportionately affected and we have been among the hardest hit places in the country.

“If Manchester City Council had received even the average cut, we would be £70million a year better off.”

There are numerous local authorities across the UK who currently have budget gaps of millions of pounds, including Manchester City Council.

Indeed, in September 2023, Birmingham City Council effectively went bankrupt, with the council’s leadership citing cuts to local government funding as one of a multitude of issues.

Although Craig says Manchester City Council is set to have a balanced budget for 2024/25, she wrote that the funding of local authorities needs to be “sufficient, sustainable and strategic”.

She said: “A lack of stability through long-term funding has constrained the scope for our own strategies to reach their full-potential, and for us to use our place leadership role to support government agendas around housing growth, regeneration and climate change.

“Imagine how much more we could achieve if we were fairly funded.”

Craig concluded: “You have an opportunity in the Autumn Statement to recognise the crucial role which local government plays in places such as Manchester. I urge you not to waste it.”

The statement comes at a time when the government is facing key challenges in relation to the UK economy, including high inflation, low growth and government borrowing repayments soaring.

The Chancellor is set to deliver the budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday 22 November.

Feature image by Headway.

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