This year alone, Birmingham has received a cut equivalent to £149 for each person in the city. Nationally, the average cut is just £79 per head. In some places, for example Wokingham, the cut is just £19 per head. This is starving our city of its fair share of money to fund services.
The unfair funding means that we will have to take some tough decisions. Current forecasts are that the City Council will need to have found £840m in the six years from 2010/11 to 2017/18 as a result of spending pressures and grant cuts – more than two thirds of the budget we have any choice over how to spend. This year alone, the Council has to make cuts in the region of £120m.
The scale of the cuts means that some services will change substantially over the coming years. Others may well cease altogether. The Council will lose another 1000 staff this year, in addition to the one third of the workforce that has left since 2010.
Last week, the Council launched a public consultation on the budget proposals. You can read the detailed proposals by clicking here. Despite the challenges, we are determined to protect as many front-line services as we can and defend the most vulnerable and hardest pressed residents. We’ve ensured that money is available to secure the future of important local leisure facilities like Shard End Community Centre. We’re investing extra into the vital children’s safeguarding services and extending our commitment to fighting poverty pay by extending the Living Wage to those providing social care on behalf of the Council.
You can make your comments on the proposals on-line by following this link.
We’ve also launched a “call to arms” to demand a fairer deal for Birmingham and to bring together residents, voluntary organisations and community groups to help us meet this challenge. Standing Up For Birmingham is about all of us working together for the future of our neighbourhoods, our communities and our city. To find out more and to get involved, please visit the website here.
Earlier this month, I helped to launch Birmingham Energy Savers, a new programme designed to help residents save money on their fuel bills.
The official statistics show that more than one in four Birmingham households are classed as being in fuel poverty. These numbers are certainly borne out by my own experience of trying to help residents who are struggling to meet the costs of heating their homes, often in the face of rising costs.
Birmingham Energy Savers will help residents by carrying out a home audit to identify energy efficiency measures and recommending a “Green Deal Plan” of improvements. Crucially, the scheme allows residents to pay for some or all of the improvements by instalments through their electricity bill. Repayments will cost no more than a typical household should save through energy costs.
The programme should reduce residents’ energy bills by up to £300 a year, which would take up to 40,000 Brummies out of fuel poverty by 2015. It will also help to create more jobs for Birmingham residents, providing a direct investment in skills and opportunities for local people.
To find out more, please visit the Birmingham Energy Savers website.