No cuts budget to create a better, fairer, Salford

Salford City Council has agreed a ‘no cuts’ budget for 2020/2021, the first in a decade. Since 2010, the council has seen its annual budget reduced by £211m a year – 53%. Budget proposals agreed on Wednesday 26 February 2020 commit the council to no further funding cuts within the next financial year.

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “This is a great achievement, particularly given the cuts which other councils across the country are being forced to make this year.

“As highlighted by the Local Government Association, over the last decade, local authorities will have seen reductions of nearly £15 billion to core Government funding, meaning that government cuts have meant that 60p in every £1 of government spending on councils has been taken since 2010, particularly from councils in northern England.

“We are in this position in Salford only because of meticulous financial planning, tough decisions taken early and decades of council-led investment into our local economy which has created growth opportunities and jobs.”

The budget also contained several key announcements:

  • Tackling low pay remains a priority and is a major factor in lifting people out of the poverty threshold. The council’s ultimate ambition for the future is to pay the real Living Wage of £9.30 per hour to care workers who deliver social care in our city. From 1 October 2020 we will be taking the first step towards this by raising pay for care workers to £9 per hour.
  • An additional investment of £585,000 into a number of environmental initiatives including 13 new street cleaners. This dedicated team will proactively remove fly-tipping, invest in behaviour change and promotional activity to encourage ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ across the city.
  • £1.2m of investment in Buile Hill Mansion. This will not fully pay for the full scale of works required but will enable the council to leverage in other funding to secure the building for future generations.
  • £250,000 investment in a City Mayor's Crowdfund Challenge. A place where local communities can raise community support and funding for local activities, events and enterprises that will benefit their area.

Government ministers have also assumed that there will be a rise in council tax, split between a further adult social care precept of 2%, despite a Green Paper on how we properly fund Social Care in the UK being promised by the government as far back as March 2017 and council tax increase of 1.99%.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett continued: “Council Tax is a regressive form of taxation, which hits the poorest people in our communities the hardest.

“We don’t want to raise local taxes, but year on year the Chancellor assumed in government’s finance settlement for local government that we must raise local rates to pay for the deficit caused by austerity budgets from national government. We believe these hikes are especially unfair given that the government’s Fair Funding Review is likely to see even more money taken from poorer local authorities in the North and gifted to wealthy shire counties in the South.

“We saw this back in 2016/17 with ‘transitional grant funding’ and it looks like the government are preparing to do this again under the guise of the Fair Funding Review.

“Whilst government refuse to pay the money we need to run our service to the standard Salford people should rightly expect, sadly we have to raise local rates to cover the shortfall. This year’s budget will also see an enhanced Salford Council Tax Reduction Scheme from 1 April, for working age households who qualify for the council tax reduction scheme, they will receive up to a maximum of 88% relief on their council tax bill, instead of the current maximum of 85%.”

On passing a ‘no cuts’ budget, Mayor Dennett said: “For the first time during my time in office, I have presented a budget that will deliver no further cuts to the services our residents need.

“Investing in the community of Salford has been absolutely crucial for this. The growth made possible through the council’s investment has helped us dampen budget pressures at a time when they are getting worse elsewhere in the country.

“I’ve listened to what people have said so more money will be invested in cleaning the streets, more money will be made available for Buile Hill Mansion and a new crowdfund challenge platform will be launched in the summer that will support local communities to raise support and funding for local activities, events and enterprises that will benefit their local area.

“The Spirit of Salford is one of our strongest and most remarkable assets and I am so proud to be the City Mayor for our great city, the enterprise, resilience and sheer tenacity of people in our city never ceases to amaze me.”

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Date published
Friday 6 March 2020

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