12:30-1:30 Picket of the council house
2pm Budget meeting starts
All Afternoon Different groups will be arranging civil disobedience actions around the city centre, highlighting some of the cuts that are being made at local and national level, and the alternatives that could be implemented instead.
5pm Mass demonstration and march – meet at the council house from 5pm. March followed by rally back at the council house. Speakers to be confirmed – if a service you use or work for is being cut, get in touch if you’d like to speak.
The provisional budget including cuts of £102 million was presented to consultation meetings involving 500 people and was universally rejected. Other consultations with voluntary groups were equally negative. Nevertheless the Labour group has supported a virtually unchanged package of cuts. There will also be an increase in Council Tax for all, and a 20% cut in Council Tax Benefit for unemployed and some disabled people costing them an average of £5 a week at a time when benefits are being increased by far less than the rate of inflation. This is what will be voted on at the full council on February 26th and it is vital to build the greatest protest possible on budget day and beyond.
These cuts will bring the total cuts since 2010 to £385 million out of an annual discretionary budget of £1298 million and the total loss of council jobs to over one in three. All council services will be affected, but youth services, children’s services and adult care will be particularly hard hit. Vital advice and legal support services provided by the Birmingham Law Centre and Citizens Advice Bureau will also be lost unless the Council gives financial support to replace that lost from central government and the NHS re-organisation.
The next two years from 2014 are equally bleak with total cuts predicted to be £625 million and whole council services being disbanded and privatised. Additionally, on the 4th February, Eric Pickles announced that there will be bigger cuts in local government grants, that might push this gap up to £700m.
Labour must defy the cuts and fully join the fight for the national government to the alternatives – ending the £25 billion tax avoided by multinational companies and very rich individuals, investing in housing and renewable energy to create jobs and growth that builds to a zero-carbon economy and fighting for our services and benefits. On February 26th there will be a massive display of protest, join in and tell Labour to do the right thing for our city and it’s people.