David Cameron criticises Manchester council cuts plan

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David Cameron has criticised Manchester City Council, saying it should cut bureaucracy and its chief executive's pay before making cuts to services.

The Labour-run council is cutting 2,000 jobs and closing some leisure centres, swimming pools and libraries in nearly £110m of savings in the next year.

In the Commons, the prime minister said the cuts were "politically driven".

He was responding to MP Tony Lloyd's claim that cuts in government funding to councils were "cruel".

During Prime Minister's Question Time, the Labour member for Manchester Central said it was a view felt by the "overwhelming majority" of his constituents.

He was highlighting the package of cuts put forward by Manchester City Council, which will rise to £170m in 2012/13.

But Mr Cameron told MPs that people wanted Sir Howard Bernstein, the chief executive, to have his £200,000 salary cut first.

'Politically motivated'

Mr Lloyd had asked the prime minister: "The overwhelming majority of my constituents believe that the local government cuts, the cuts in local government spending, are not simply too fast and too deep, but are cruel and politically motivated.

"Can you tell the House why my constituents are wrong?"

Mr Cameron replied: "I think the cuts being made by Manchester City Council are politically-driven and are too deep.

Image caption,
Sir Richard Leese said cutting salaries was not the best way to make savings

"Manchester City Council is having its grant cut by 15%, that is less than my council for instance, being cut by 23%.

"A 15% cut in their grant and yet they are cutting services by 25%. I notice they have still got £100m in the bank as balances and they have a chief executive paid over £200,000 a year.

"I think people in Manchester will look at their council and say 'cut out the waste, cut out the bureaucracy, start to cut the chief executive's salary and only then should you be looking at services'."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "For Manchester to successfully get through this era of unprecedented public spending cuts we need motivated staff delivering services efficiently and effectively.

"Cutting salaries is not the way to achieve this and this is really nothing more than a gimmick to deflect attention away from the sheer scale of the cuts."

The council has rejected the idea that Manchester is a wasteful local authority.

A spokesman said £55m-worth of efficiency savings had already been made over the past two years and it was planning to make a further £96m over the coming two years.

He added out that back office services were facing cuts of 35% - in a move to protect frontline services as far as possible.

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