Manchester set to cut 160 jobs as it faces £75m budget gap

Manchester City Council will have to cut nearly 600 jobs as it looks to save £59m in 2015-16.

Manchester City Council could cut 160 jobs as it looks to bridge a budget gap of up to £75m by 2019-20.

Proposals published by the authority include £27m worth of cuts for adult social care, £6.69m in savings from children's services and council tax rises of 1.99 per cent plus the two per cent social care precept in each of the next three years.

Other options include a 50 per cent reduction in Neighbourhood Investment Funding to Manchester's 32 wards to £10,000 a year, cuts to leisure centres, halving the area covered by the city's Christmas lights and cutting the budget of the city's work and skills team.

Manchester faces a budget gap of between £40m and £75m by 2019-20.

The council warned that if the gap is at the higher end of the range, it may have to take "unpalatable options" of reducing services.

The savings drive is on top of cuts since 2011 that have seen the council's resources reduced from £682m a year in 2010-11 to around £528m a year now, alongside a 40 per cent reduction in its workforce.

The council's budget proposals will be available for consultation from 3 November.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said that the squeeze on resources means "business as usual is not an option".

"Developments such as devolution, which is giving us greater autonomy in areas such as health and social care integration, will help the city make the changes which place a greater emphasis on prevention of problems, not spending fortunes on tackling them reactively," he added. 

"Manchester remains an ambitious city and this will be ambitious budget which will nevertheless involve some difficult decisions. I would stress that these are options and no decisions about specific proposals are being taken until the New Year." 

Manchester's sole opposition councillor, Liberal Democrat John Leech told the BBC that the proposed budget shows "little attempt to lessen the blow on local residents and frontline services".

He added that many people would be "shocked" at job losses just weeks after several senior managers received above-inflation pay rises.

The council had said the changes, which include a 20 per cent pay rise for the head of city centre regeneration, reflected "increased responsibility" due to more development in the city centre.