Category Archives: Cuts

Report and Thoughts On The Budget Consultations

2013 budget consultationSome thoughts on the budget consultations from Godfrey Webster

Having attended three of the budget consultation meetings and heard reports from the fourth I think it Is time to discuss the nature of the presentations made and the public response to them.

After the Jaws of Doom campaign and the issue of green papers suggesting the closure of whole branches of council services, Albert was able to present his £85,000,000 of salami slicing cuts as a reprieve even if temporary from worse things to come.

This goes some way to explain the rather muted response of the participants compared to previous years.. Others are probably the claims of the Tories and media that the recession is ending, and a certain war weariness with the seemingly endless struggle against cuts.

Obviously there was no enthusiasm for Albert’s approach and the points we made opposing privatisation, volunteers replacing paid trained workers, and for a mass campaign against government funding cuts were well received.

The paranoid response of Ian Ward and to lesser degree Albert Bore to accusations of acting as the coalition’s enforcers and to demands that instead they set a budget based on needs shows that they feel defensive and vulnerable, and reflects the unease with their approach within the Labour group of councillors.

The exposure of the rip-off nature of the Capita IT contract by David Bailey and others has obviously hit home. The draft budget included cuts of £20 million per year to the contract, but under sustained pressure at the meetings Ian Ward promised the whole contract would be reviewed. The economic benefits of ending the contract completely would be considered.

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The lost year – Safeguarding Birmingham’s children

Birmingham Council’s cabinet this week agreed a Transformation plan for the social work services charged with safeguarding children in the city. The plan proposes that an additional £9.2m is allocated which will be a ‘permanent increase to the safeguarding revenue’ and will be carried forward into the budget for 2014-15.

This is an important move by the Council which will help stabilise safeguarding services, and in particular the staffing of social work teams, and most importantly it will hopefully lead to improvements in the protection of children in the city.

The background to this move is that in the financial year’s 2011-12 and 2012-13 Birmingham council’s spend on children’s social care reduced from £617 to £607 per young person. (1) (This does not include the budget cuts of 2013-14 which will likely see a further drop in per head spend this year).

There are however some critical issues regarding the timing and the significant delay in the Council finding this additional funding.

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Massive historic underspend on Birmingham’s children’s services

lettThe announcement of the proposed Budget for 2014 has brought good news for children’s social care with an investment of £9m in frontline safeguarding services for children in the city. The money will be used to help stabilise social work teams and to recruit and retain social workers, there is a 25% vacancy rate for children’s social workers in the city.

Cllr Brigid Jones announced on Tuesday at the budget consultation meeting in Erdington that there had been a ‘massive underspend’ on children’s social care in Birmingham compared to other cities.

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Birmingham City Council Budget Consultation Leaflets

Birmingham Against The Cuts has produced these leaflets for the council budget cut consultations. They will be available at the meetings. (click to enlarge)

BATC front page

BATC centre pages

BATC back page

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Social care in the firing line

adult social care trickOver the next two weeks there will be a series of consultation meetings called by the Council to present their budget for 2014-15. Further cuts of the order of £119m are to be made from next years budget. These proposed cuts must be opposed in their entirety.

The meetings will take place
Tuesday 10 December, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, The Lighthouse Suite, St Barnabas’ Church, High Street, Erdington
Wednesday 11 December, 6pm – 8pm, South Yardley Library
Thursday 12 December, 6pm – 8pm, Nishkam Centre, Handsworth
Wednesday 18 December, 6pm – 8pm, Bournville College, Longbridge
Adults and Children’s social care services form a significant part of the Council budget and have been deeply affected by past and present cuts to the Council’s budget. Birmingham against the cuts has set up a Social care working party for service users, carers, workers and anyone else who is interested.

The next meeting of the working party is to take place on Wednesday 15th January at 5.30pm (more details to follow)

The working group has produced two short briefings on the cuts to social care with some ideas for people to use at the budget consultation meetings.

A short Briefing on the Adult’s social care: 3 key points for the Budget consultation

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Service Birmingham Profits Are The Teeth In The Jaws Of Doom

dec 5th draft B council house gradientthe following article by David Bailey, detailing how Capita’s IT contract with the council is costing us so much money it could, if ended go a substantial way to stopping cuts in council services and social security support, was published by the Birmingham Post

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Beeches Pool Under Threat Of Closure – Sign This Petition

Cllr Karen Hamilton At The Pool

Beeches Pool in Perry Beeches is threatened wth closure, the Labour councillors for the ward are campaigning to keep it open – you can find out more information about the closure and campaign on their blog

Petitioners are encouraged to sign the paper petitions which are circulating, some of which have already been submitted by Cllr Karen Hamilton – but if this is not possible please use this e-petition

Please spend a few moments to sign this petition:
http://epetition.birmingham.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/SaveBeechesPool

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Bore’s call for a citizen army of volunteers

Bloomsbury Library in Nechells was recently closed following the theft of lead from the roof, the Birmingham Mail reported that an anonymous employee, said: “We were told the library was closing down for good and that staff would be transferred to other libraries.'' (Birmingham Mail 28th October 2013)

Bloomsbury Library in Nechells was recently closed following the theft of lead from the roof, the Birmingham Mail reported that an anonymous employee, said: “We were told the library was closing down for good and that staff would be transferred to other libraries.” (Birmingham Mail 28th October 2013)

At Tuesday’s Council meeting Sir Albert issued his call for the citizens of Birmingham to come forward and to volunteer to run local public services that otherwise will be closed as a result of future budget cuts.

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Campaign to Save Laurel Road Community Centre.

Laurel Road Community CentreBirmingham Council are considering putting the centre under asset transfer, which we believe puts the future operation of the Centre at threat. We are campaigning to keep the Centre within the council as a properly funded, properly staffed public service.

What do we do?

Ideas and Discussion session – all welcome

7pm Tuesday Nov. 12th

Laurel Rd Community and Sports Centre

Laurel Rd, Handsworth, Birmingham

Accessibility information

Called by Handsworth Against the Cuts

Sue 07818068856

Alistair 07846490408

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An open letter to Unison Birmingham Branch Regarding Sheltered Housing Cuts

Following is an open letter regarding how cuts are affecting sheltered housing, from a resident of sheltered housing in Birmingham.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I am a service user who lives in Sheltered Housing and also a member of the Unite union.

I have recently received a notice from the managers of the Services for Older People department which has responsibilities for Sheltered Housing (or Supported Accommodation, as it is sometimes called). The notice said there would not be a Support Officer (Warden) on site on Tuesday, 22 October because staff would be attending a training course. Training courses are obviously important but they should surely be staggered and run over two or three different days to allow for some Support Officers to be onsite as they always have been between Monday and Friday. Tenants surely have the right to know their Support Officer visits to their homes will take place.

A year or two ago it would have been unthinkable for there to be a situation where no Support Officer was on site on any week day to attend to the needs of Service Users but this now seems to be creeping in more and more. The Careline pull cords which tenants have are important but they only link us to a switchboard several miles away and despite their best efforts, the staff there CANNOT provide the face-to-face presence of a daily on-site Support Officer.

This absence of Support Officer coverage is very worrying and the situation seems to be getting worse the more the city council cuts back on financing its services.

Unison organises and represents many of these Support Officers (who work in isolation and must find it very difficult to properly liaise with their workmates) and it would be greatly appreciated to know what steps the union is taking to challenge what is increasingly looking like a worrying run-down in frontline support services.

Many thanks

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