Manchester: Labour cuts and growing resistance

Labour Manchester City Council has once again voted a multi-million pound programme of cutbacks upon some of the poorest communities in Britain. As ever, Labour councillors opposed the ConDem cuts with words, but not with their votes on 8 March. At a time when working class people are starting to challenge the bedroom tax, the council is slashing £3.4m from the ‘supporting people’ budget for accommodation centres, hostels and rehousing support groups. We have a fight on our hands.

The £80m cuts programme will require a further 900 jobs to go on top of the 2,000 council jobs that Labour has already chopped. This amounts to a 30% cut in the workforce. Council leader Sir Richard Leese (£55k in expenses a year) claimed he remained ‘committed to ensuring we protect and support Manchester’s most vulnerable people’, but supported the restructuring of children’s and adults’ services which will mean a 13% reduction in funding to save £41.5m, and a £1.8m cut in services for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Three swimming pools will be closed and six libraries. Councillors like Julie Reed, who spoke for the city’s baths to be saved, and Mike Amesbury who called for Fallowfield library to be saved, both voted with the rest of the Labour bloc for the £80m cuts!

The £80m cuts means that Labour will have slashed £250m since 2010. Support services for old people, homeless people, disabled people, mentally ill people, women who have suffered domestic abuse, people with drug and alcohol problems, libraries, youth clubs, children’s centres and many more – have already lost millions, with many of these groups shutting down altogether. By 2018 cuts will mean that the council can provide no more than basic adult and children’s services and waste collection.

When asked what the state of Manchester will look like in 2018 Leese said ‘I think austerity’s going to be longer than that!’ The same week, he announced a 20% pay rise for Coroner Nigel Meadows, who will now get £120k a year. The chief executives for eight councils in Greater Manchester get between 12 and 16 times more than the councils’ lowest earners, with an average of more than £172,000 a year (in addition to as much as £30k a year towards their pensions). What more can we expect from councils which exist to protect capitalism and privilege?

Louis Brehony

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013