Blog Archives

My annual report to Scrutiny

Yesterday I gave my annual report to the Council’s Social Cohesion and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee on the work I’ve been doing as a member of the City Council’s Cabinet.

I took questions from Councillors on a wide range of issues, including the Council’s efforts to tackle inequality in the city, the impact of the Bedroom Tax and other welfare changes and the progress we’ve been making with the Birmingham Fair Money campaign. You can watch a recording of the meeting and read a copy of my report by following this link.


Pay Ahead, Stay Ahead


I was delighted to help launch Pay Ahead, Stay Ahead – a three year project to help young Birmingham tenants to get off to a positive start.

If you’re aged between 16 and 24 and either a first time social housing tenant or considering social housing, then Pay Ahead, Stay Ahead is for you! The scheme helps young people develop the life and money management skills they need to sustain a tenancy; offers advice and support from mentors and  opportunities for work placements and volunteering.

For more information, visit or call the team for free on 0800 160 1990.

City Council takes a stand on Bedroom Tax

At this month’s meeting of the City Council, I moved a resolution calling on the Government to abolish the Bedroom Tax and setting out the steps we are taking, here in Birmingham, to deal with the effects of this pernicious measure.

The resolution, which you can read by clicking here, received the unanimous support of all Labour Councillors. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats chose not to register a vote.

You can watch the full debate by following this link. If you, a friend or family member are affected by Bedroom Tax or any of the other welfare changes, please visit or drop me a line via the Contact Me page.

Under Scrutiny

On Tuesday I appeared before the Council’s Social Cohesion and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee to take questions on the work I’ve been doing as a member of the City Council’s Cabinet.

Despite being interrupted by a fire alarm during the middle of proceedings and having to evacuate the Council House for a short period, we managed to cover a wide range of topics, including the city’s Social Inclusion Process, the impact of welfare reform and how we can hand more power and control to local communities.

The meeting was live streamed on the internet and you can view a recording by clicking here.

Speaking out against the Bedroom Tax

The Bedroom Tax comes into effect on 1 April, one of a series of ill-thought out welfare “reforms” that will affect many hard pressed families in Shard End Ward.

There are over 9,000 households living in Birmingham City Council properties who will be directly affected and a further 5,500 who are tenants of housing association properties.  Over 400 of these households can be found in Shard End Ward – one of the highest concentrations in the city.

I recently gave an interview setting out the impact that Bedroom Tax will have on people living in our community and the kind of work the City Council is doing to try and support them. You can view it by clicking on the image below.

For more information about the impending welfare changes and how they might affect you or someone you know, please click here.

Fears over growth of food banks

Last week, I opened three new food bank collection bins at the City Council’s Woodcock Street offices.  The bins allow Council staff to contribute food which is then taken by the Salvation Army to Birmingham Central Food Bank, for distribution to families and children across the city.

The growing demand upon food banks is a sad reflection of the pressures that the people of Birmingham are facing as a result of welfare reform, spending cuts and the general economic situation.  Here in Shard End Ward, we now have at least two food banks supporting hard pressed and vulnerable local residents and there is a growing network in neighbourhoods across the city.

I gave a short interview setting out the work that the City Council is doing, along with our partners, to try and help local people faced with these challenges.  Click on the link above to watch.

Building a Fairer Brum

Back in July, I reported on “Giving Hope, Changing Lives”, the social inclusion inquiry that is being led by the Bishop of Birmingham.  You can read my original post here.

The inquiry has now published a “Green Paper”, which sets out a series of ideas and recommendations to make our city a fairer place in which to live and work.  You can download a copy of the Green Paper by clicking here.

The Bishop and the inquiry team are keen to hear the views of Birmingham residents about the proposals.  You can have your say by logging on to the consultation portal at, or by commenting on the Fair Brum blog: