Every local authority in Greater Manchester is preparing to raise council tax bills from April in a bid to keep services running.
In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the budgets of town halls right across the city-region have been hit hard, with some councils admitting to having to plug huge gaps in their finances, and while the government has already paid out millions in emergency funding, council leaders have said that this money does not go far enough.
This is why the government has allowed authorities to increase residents’ council tax bills by up to 4.99%.
Although a price hike has now been signed off by all 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester this week, many leaders – some of whom are begrudgingly agreeing to the maximum uplift – have stated that they see council tax as a “regressive” way of funding local services.
But despite the financial hardships many local residents are facing as a result of the pandemic, council tax bills will rise from April.
Here’s a breakdown of how council tax bills will change in the coming year.
Manchester City Council has today voted in favour of the 2021 Budget and has signed-off on raising council tax by 4.99% for residents in Manchester.
As part of the sign-off, bills will look to raise £8.5 million and prevent cuts to frontline services like adult social care, and Sir Richard Leese – Leader of Manchester City Council – has also promised that the council will continue to invest in affordable housing and becoming a zero carbon city.
The annual bill for Band D properties will go up by £71.13 to £1,425.46.
As part of its “no cuts budget” – which was approved by councillors in the borough last month – the neighbouring authority of Salford will increase council tax by 3.99% in April, so for Band A properties, the most common property banding in the city, the annual council tax bill will rise by £50.30, taking the total to £1,343.29.
Conservative councillors in Salford had called for a “freeze” on council tax, saying it would spend £4.5 million of its reserves as a “one-off”, instead of “hitting people’s pockets”.
In Bolton – the only Conservative-controlled town hall in Greater Manchester – a 3.8% council tax rise was signed off last month and it will see Band A properties, which make up more than 40% of the overall tax base in the town and wider borough, pay an extra 74p a week.
The assumptions built into the 2021/22 Budget also include a 1.8% increase for the general council tax levy in the borough, and 2% increase for the adult social care precept.
Due to Bury Council’s finances being hit to the tune of £43.5 million over the next three years as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but despite attempts by opposition parties in the borough to amend the Budget, a 4.7% tax rise has been approved for Bury residents in the coming year.
This means that Band D households will pay an extra £31 from April, taking their annual bills to £1,643.31.
Once again, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and forming part of measures to plug a £27.6 million shortfall, a council tax rise of 2.99% – alongside and a five year capital investment programme – was approved by Oldham Council yesterday, meaning that some residents will see their bills rise by up to £30 year.
Now signed-off by councillors in the borough, those living in Band A properties will have to pay an extra £2.78 a month from April.
This rise in Oldham the lowest in Greater Manchester, however.
Although opposition councillors had tried to force a freeze on council tax – something which had been mooted by leader of the Labour-led council, Councillor Alan Brett, last summer – plans to raise council tax in Rochdale by the maximum 4.99% were signed off this week.
For Band D properties, council tax will go up by £82.10 for the year, bringing the annual bill to £1,727.37.
A 3.5% council tax rise was signed off by Stockport councillors in early February.
This means the owners of an average Band D property will pay just under £60 extra for services provided by the local authority, bringing the annual bill to £1,749.90, but unlike other local authorities in Greater Manchester, the general element of council tax accounts for the majority of the rise – 2% – with adult social care making up the remaining 1.5%.
Council tax in Tameside will increase by the maximum 4.99% from April.
In the move – which will see residents’ bills rise by at least £50 – councillors in Tameside say that increasing council tax by 1.99%, and the precept for adult social care by 3%, will raise nearly £5 million for the town hall in its COVID-19 recovery.
For a typical Band A property, this increase in council tax will equate to an extra £50.83 per year.
With town hall bosses admitting that savings of around £11.1 million will be needed to balance the books in the coming year as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Trafford Council has approved plans to hike council tax by 4.99% in order to raise more than £5 million.
This means that those living in s Band C home will see a £73 increase in their council tax bill from £1,460.46 per year, to £1,533.34 from April.
Wigan Council has signed-off on a 3.99% council tax rise from April.
This will be the first rise in council tax prices for seven years, and only the second time in the last decade it has risen, with most of the money going towards social care costs and Councillor Nazia Rahman – Cabinet Member for Finance at Wigan Council – saying the rise would be manageable for some, but it would “take a toll on the tiny budgets” of the majority of people in the borough.
It will cost Band A properties – the most common banding in Wigan – an extra £35 a year.
The above sign-offs for the council tax hike by each local authority this week follows Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s unveiling of his 2021 Budget to the House of Commons earlier this week, and also comes after it was confirmed last month that Mayor Andy Burnham and the ten borough leaders of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) had made a unanimous decision to suspend the ‘Mayoral General Precept’, which is part of the overall council tax.
The mayoral precept – which funds the fire service, rough sleeping accommodation and free bus passes for young people – will be frozen at last year’s rates.
This means that Band B and Band D properties will pay £70.73 and £90.95 for the year respectively, from 1st April, and alongside that, the police precept – which is separate to both council tax and the mayoral precept – will rise by £10 to an annual payment of £208.30 for a Band D property.
14 arrests made after animal rights protesters target £195-a-head Michelin-star restaurant Mana
Animal right protesters targeted Mana, one of Manchester’s most prestigious restaurants, this weekend, leading to 14 arrests.
Activists from Animal Rebellion staged the sit-in protest at Mana in Ancoats, the city’s only Michelin star restaurant, saying they targeted it for its ‘meat-heavy menu’ and the fact it doesn’t cater to vegans.
The protest saw people occupy the renowned restaurant on Saturday evening, calling for a ‘Plant based future’.
The restaurant has said that guests, who will have paid £195 per person for the set menu, had their bookings delayed by up to three hours because of the disruption.
Protesters sat down at the tables inside Mana and pulled out their own menus, which outlined a vision for a plant-based food system and the re-wilding of space used for animal agriculture.
GMP were called to reports of the disturbance on Blossom Street at around 7.20pm on Saturday 3 December, and subsequently arrested 14 individuals on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
All have been released on bail.
Superintendent Ian Jones of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said: “Though this wasn’t a large-scale protest, we understand it caused some disruption in and around the area of Blossom Street last night so would like to thank members of the public and businesses for their patience whilst we responded to the incident in the most appropriate way.
“GMP respects the right of people to protest peacefully and so will always, in the first instance, engage with organisers and demonstrators to facilitate this – as per national guidance.
“It is, however, our responsibility to prevent and investigate crime, and keep people safe. In this case, and following engagement attempts, the most appropriate course of action was to make arrests.”
Animal Rebellion wrote on Twitter: “Supporters of Animal Rebellion continue to occupy luxury restaurant Mana in Manchester to demand an end to climate chaos, inequality and animal exploitation in the form of a transition to a #PlantBasedFuture.”
The group also posted: “The restaurant serves a set menu starting at £195 per person. Whilst 2 million in the UK rely on food banks, high-end restaurants are catering to a wealthy minority.”
They then shared a video of the police entering Mana and handcuffing protesters, and said: “ARRESTS ARE BEING MADE at Mana Restaurant in Manchester, following a peaceful occupation at Mana.
“This is an emergency. We indisputably NEED to transition away from animal farming and towards a #plantbasedfuture.”
Simon Martin, Mana’s chef-patron, said in a lengthy statement that the team were ‘confused’ as to why independent Mana was targeted over a large chain.
He said: “The protest last night at Mana disrupted the operation of a small business that has already suffered economically from COVID and the ongoing energy crisis during the busiest night of the week. Guests who were celebrating birthdays and anniversaries had their meals delayed by 3 hours, and our hard-working staff had to work into the late hours of the night.
“While we tried to communicate with the protestors during the course of the evening, politely asking them to leave, they refused to speak with us.
“Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, we are confused as to why the protestors chose to target a restaurant that prioritizes sustainability and animal welfare, instead of a corporate fast food chain.
“Mana has always been a highly sustainable restaurant, sourcing hyper local and sustainably produced vegetables from small businesses just like ourselves who abstain from GMOs, herbicides, and pesticides.
“Farms for livestock we use are personally visited by members of the team to ensure standards there meet our criteria for supply, and seafood is strictly captured by hand or line. The cost of a meal at Mana is reflective of these production methods, which are lower yield and higher quality.
“It’s ironic that the protesters who are campaigning for better food supply do not realise the cost attached to the quality, leading us to believe they do not fully understand their cause.
Mana is always supportive of good causes with a history of hosting events for The Christie NHS foundation trust and Eat Well MCR, as well as making donations towards StreetSmart and Hospitality Action. A portion of each table’s bill is donated towards the homeless.”
A spokesman for Animal Rebellion clamed that Mana was targeted because ‘it refuses to cater to vegans’ and has ‘a meat-heavy menu’. Simon has responded to that claim to clarify that Mana offers a full vegetarian menu, but said: “We do not cater for lactose intolerances for logistical reasons.”
Featured image: Animal Rebellion
Manchester United opening up ‘warm spaces’ in Red Cafe to the community this winter
Manchester United are opening up the doors of their Red Cafe to the local community for December, providing “warm spaces” to those set to struggle over the coming months.
As part of the club’s winter campaign, United by Your Side, the Red Cafe will provide a safe space for people to stay warm, eat, drink and chat.
The area will be available to absolutely everyone and completely free of charge every Monday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, starting on 6 December from 5:00-8:00pm.
People can arrive and register via the North Stand reception (Sir Alex Ferguson Stand), before being guided to the Red Cafe and left to get warm, enjoy hot beverages and plenty of snacks, as well as socialise.
Crucially, another objective of the Red Cafe’s United by Your Side scheme is helping combat loneliness, as a big part of the warm spaces are the ‘talking benches’ located on the forecourt at Old Trafford.
Signposted as a welcoming place for people who feel alone or are simply worried, shy or anxious to sit and talk to others, this area is designed for people to look after one another and reach out during a period when we’re all encouraged to be more giving.
As United’s COO Collette Roche detailed in an official statement: “Whether Christmas is part of people’s life or not, the festive period can be a difficult time for many. It’s a time of year that puts extra pressure on people and can affect mental health and wellbeing in lots of different ways.
“Through our United by Your Side campaign, we want people who are struggling to know that they are not alone, particularly in our local community. We want to make Old Trafford a second home by providing winter accessories, company, warmth and food for those who need it.”
In addition, today (Friday 2 December), fans are drumming up extra support for the United Foundation and homeless charity Centrepoint by staging a fundraising sleepout in the Munich Tunnel.
The club is working with the council and several local and national charities like Centrepoint to deliver the initiatives and communicate them to people who need it most.
Eleanor Roaf, Director of Public Health at Trafford Council, said: “This year with the increase in the cost of heating and food, many people are likely to find winter and the festive period challenging.
“I’m delighted that Manchester United are opening their Red Cafe and providing this space with hot snacks and drinks. This helps to how football is at the heart of our borough.”
Manchester Mind are also playing a key role in the campaign. The CEO of the mental health charity’s Mancunian arm, Elizabeth Simpson, said: “We know that many people are struggling at the moment due to the cost of living crisis and that this is impacting their mental health.”
She went on to note these added pressures on top of an already busy and often stressful time of year “can feel overwhelming and isolating”, which is why initiatives like United By Your Side are so important.
The sleepout alone has already raised nearly £15,000 at the time of writing and the lifeline the warm spaces set up in Old Trafford will provide cannot be overstated.
Moreover, while it fills our hearts to hear of local institutions like this doing their bit to help people in the community, it’s heartbreaking to know that warm banks are even required. Sadly, United are by no means the only organisation that felt it was necessary to offer up this kind of support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, loneliness, rising costs or simply not knowing where to go for help, please send them to Manchester Mind’s cost of living information, their wellbeing hub and be sure to make them aware of warm spaces like those at Red Cafe if they need it.
Well done to the club and the associated charities for setting up such vital resources and a safe haven this December. United by name, united by nature.
*Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 16 and due to United’s EFL Cup fixture against Burnley on Wednesday 21 December, the Red Cafe will open on Thursday 22 December instead.