Manchester fireworks and Christmas lights switch-on won’t be axed this year amid budget changes

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The town hall had previously said it would stop funding the annual fireworks display and the Christmas lights switch-on in the city centre.

Millions of pounds worth of cuts to Manchester city council’s budget are no longer planned for next year, as previous proposals to pull funding for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display and the Christmas lights switch-on event are being scrapped. Manchester Art Gallery will not close for one more day per week as planned and replacing recyling bins will remain free for the next financial year at least.

In documents seen by Local Democracy Reporting Service, around £6m of savings that had been planned for next year’s budget have been removed or deferred to future years. This includes services for residents in supported accommodation, a reduction in gully cleaning and cuts to library services.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The town hall had previously said it would stop funding the annual fireworks display and the Christmas lights switch-on in the city centre, but the events could still go ahead if sponsorship from the private sector could be secured. The budget for these events has been protected for next year, but council-funded bonfire night celebrations across the city are still set to be cancelled.

The ruling Labour group was informed of the revised proposals at a meeting this week. They will be presented to council scrutiny committees next week.

Council tax is still set to increase by 4.99 % from April, costing the majority of households in the city an extra £50 a year. But planned rises in rent for market traders and an increase on bereavement services fees are set to be scrapped.

The local authority must make £15m of cuts next year, but the savings needed over three years has fallen from the £96m forecast in November to £36m. It comes after the government told councils how much funding they would get.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before the government’s autumn statement last year, Manchester council was planning for £21m of cuts next year and a 3 pc council tax increase. But this left a gap of around £6m in next year’s budget which has now been closed.

Labour councillor Rabnawaz Akbar who is Manchester’s executive member for finance, said the funding settlement was ‘slightly better than feared’. But he said that the government is ‘effectively forcing’ a full council tax increase.

He said: “We’ve been able to revisit the savings we had originally put forward. We are now proposing that we remove or defer the most difficult options involving service reductions or increased charges for services.

“We are also investing in help for those most in need during the cost of living crisis and extra support for social care – helping our loved ones and easing pressures on the NHS. And we’re investing too in supporting key services to put them on a more sustainable footing for tougher times ahead.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There was a sting in the tail of the government’s funding settlement. While it’s better than feared in the immediate term and gives us some breathing space, they are effectively forcing us to increase council tax by 4.99 pc and it’s clear that they are putting off the worst cuts until 2025/26.

“We are making sure the city is in good shape to meet the challenges ahead while still looking after those who need it most now.”

Manchester council has previously said that if it does not raise council tax by the full 4.99%, the government would assume it has more money than it actually does and this could have an impact on funding it receives in the future. The government said this assumption is ‘incorrect’, but admitted that future funding decisions are based, in part, on the level at which council tax is set at.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.