I, Mystic Mary Burns, have been at it again, up on Kersal Moor enticing the spirits of the future, and, following my predictions last month (see previous article – click here), I see more despair heading towards Salford….
* Despite the £25million cuts coming in the next twelve months, I see a new Fat Cat arriving at Salford Council. Having got rid of Chief Executive Barbara Spicer and her whopping salary, Mayor Ian Stewart put out a statement saying he was going to "create the new post of Council Manager on a substantially reduced salary"...widely reported as £70,000 (see here). Now, I predict, this salary will be `substantially increased' and a new post of `Chief Officer' will be appointed in the first few months of the year.
* I predict that, despite a `consultation' (which ended in mid December) on more Council Tax benefit cuts, Salford Council will still go ahead with the poverty inducing measure that will see already struggling people paying `at least 12%' of their Council Tax bill from April this year.
As of last year, some of the poorest people in the city have had to find 8.5% of the hefty bill – a 3.5% increase will push people even further into the financial brink – facing a Council Tax bill of up to £122 per year, on top of any Bedroom Tax, service charge increases and rent hikes (see here). With my psychic powers I couldn't see anyone actually filling in the consultation in favour of this – but I see the Council pushing ahead with it anyway…
* Despite 65% of Salford housing tenants being in rent arrears and one in 61 households at risk of their houses being re-possessed (see here), I predict that the Council will slash its Housing, Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service with £350,000 cuts.
The Council will try to get rid of 16 of the current 24 Supported Tenancies workers, even though there's a staff consultation which goes on until the end of January. Just when Salford people need this Advice Service most, the Council's axe is hovering.
* I predict a 10% cut to mental health services of £108,688, tightening the screw on all the companies which currently provide care to those who need it most in Salford.
* I see vulnerable adults in Salford getting more isolated and more confused by huge cuts to the third sector organisations that currently provide their care. In 2014 there's going to be an even bigger move towards what the Council calls "a new market situation", with companies competing for cut price care contracts.
I don't need psychic abilities to see the vulnerable suffering, with even the Council stating in a new report that there is a `high risk' in relation to organisations providing day care, support for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and carers breaks support.
It even names the organisations that "may experience financial difficulties in the new market situation"… Age UK, Manchester Jewish Community Care, ASGMA, Crossroads and Give Us A Break… and adds that "there is a possibility of damage to the reputation of the City Council if these organisations are unable to continue providing services in the new market conditions".
In relation to community arts and media, these `procurement' and `commissioning' changes saw the demise of established organisations like Gears+ and CRIS (Creative Industry in Salford) last year. I see more Tory-induced, Labour-enacted commercially led carnage to follow…
I can look no more into my crystal ball without smashing the bloody thing in horror, but rest assured that what is coming in 2014 will hurt the weakest, poorest, most vulnerable people in the city.
Oh, and I predict a new bridge being commissioned on the Crescent and more subsidies for fat cat, profit-mongering, Salford-mugging corporations cashing in on our misery with their fools gold of jobs…
Happy New Year.
Mystic Mary Burns