Tag Archives: cuts

Save Millmead Road children’s home!

Millmead children’s home was opened in 2004 to help young people to prepare for life after care. In the home, young people aged 15½ – 17 can learn the skills they need to live on their own.

Young people leaving care are some of the most disadvantaged in the city. They are over-represented in the prison population and among the homeless and more likely to be unemployed.

Yet despite this, the council are determined to push on with their program of cuts. They want to shut the doors by March 31st.

We know that with the support of local people, staff and residents we can win a campaign to save the home, just like staff and parents at Charles House respite centre who won their recent campaign to stay open.

The council have given two reasons they want to close the home:

Under capacity?

The council says the home is under capacity, having only 2 young people living there at the moment. But since autumn 2011 they have put a block on sending any young people to live at Millmead Road.

Subsidence?

The council have said that subsidence repairs would be costly. But they have refused to pay for a full survey on what looks like a small crack in the wall.

Council representatives told a recent residents’ meeting the home would be used for students after March 31st, without the need to carrying out any repairs.

We believe that young people should not be thrown to the lions at 16, left to survive in hostels with no support.

Please help us save this valuable service for young people in Birmingham.

Save Millmead Road campaign

What you can do:

· Sign the petition and take a copy for your friends, neighbours and colleagues to sign.

· Get some leaflets for your street

· Write to the local MP Gisela Stuart (Labour)

stuartg@parliament.uk

· Join us in lobbying the Bartley Green councillors:

March 7th, 7:30pm at Long Nuke Hall, Long Nuke Road, Northfield

Get in touch with the joint campaign: 07828 013 091 stirchleyanticuts@gmail.com

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Today Birmingham City Council Will Vote Through £100m Of Cuts – Here’s What We Won And What We Are Losing

Today from 2pm, Birmingham City Council meet to debate and vote on the budget for 2012/13. Over the last 6 months, consultations have been ignored or sidelined by the ConDem coalition locally, in favour of rushing through as many cuts as possible before they lose control of the council at the local elections in May.
With over 200 pages and £100m of cuts being made, we’re not going to list everything here. The complete budget is available here. If anyone wants to tell us about a particular cut that is going to affect you, or that you are aware of, please do so, either by email (BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com or by commenting on this post.
Many of the cuts announced still have consultation processes to go through or complete. Through the consultation process and alongside lobbying, demonstrations and where applicable strikes, with the support of the people who need the services being cut, we can stop some of the cuts.
But if we are to stop all of the cuts, then we need to be changing things at both national and local level, arguing for the alternative to cuts, and resisting cuts through action on the streets.

Anti-cuts and anti-austerity events take place every week in and around Birmingham. We do our best to list all of them on our upcoming events page. Through mass action we can change things – right now the workfare schemes are in huge trouble, and the Health and Social Care Bill (NHS reforms) has gone from looking like a lost battle to fully on the rocks, as healthcare professionals line up to condemn the bill.
Join Us.

Here is some of what has been won and lost in this years budget.

1,200 jobs are expected to be lost – in addition to the 4,800 that have already gone as £100m gets slashed from Birmingham City Council’s budget – taking the total to over £300m. Just over half of the £500m Barclays are being made to repay from a tax avoidance scheme.

Adults and Communities

118 jobs will be going in home care, as the council cuts back the services to only be available for people immediately upon leaving hospital. Anyone else receiving home care will be forced into the private sector.
269 jobs will be lost in adult education. It is not at all clear what this will actually mean, or where the jobs are. However, at times of rising unemployment, it can never be good to lose the people who might be able to help retrain and give people skills.

Shelforce

80 jobs to be lost as this business which provides supported employment for disabled adults, and until recently produced a profit for the council, is still looking to be closed. The fight to keep it open and get the council to invest in the business so it can return to profitability continues, and this is not definitely lost yet.

Homes and Neighbourhoods

Library services are being cut. No libraries will close, but most are seeing their hours reduced.

Handsworth library – originally earmarked to only be open 3 days per week, will now open 5 days per week after a campaign by local group Handsworth Against the Cuts. They were not able to restore Friday openings unfortunately.

As reported yesterday, Leisure services are to be privatised in a £200m outsourcing operation. Handsworth Against the Cuts began petitioning last week, and we are organising a day of action on Saturday 10th March to build awareness of this move. All our local groups will be arranging petitioning sessions – if you can join them, let us know. If you want to hlep in your area and there is no local group, we have petitions and are making leaflets, and can try to put you in touch with other people in your area.

Children, Young People and Families

100 jobs have been saved, for now, at Connexions (although their budget was already reduced by around 40% last year). The council have agreed to continue the service, hoping that they will be able to raise money by selling their skills into schools. Connexions used to supply services directly to schools from their budget, but now if schools want careers advisers, they have to pay for them out of their budget.
This is an example of how the government is cutting education budgets by the back door, but it is also an example to show us why we need to oppose all cuts – this move is simply looking to shift the cut from the council budget to the schools budgets. Only by ending the austerity agenda and implementing alternatives to the cuts can we truly defeat this cut.

I have saved the most maddening cut for last.
£6.7m is to be cut from the Childrens’ placement budget. This covers looking after children who are taken into care. It is also an area that is still under consultation, in part thanks to the campaigns that have saved Charles House and Cambourne House.
Two other houses have been earmarked as facing closure: 56 Millmead Road and Mulberry House.
Closing care homes means needing to rehouse the children who live there.
The council say this will be done by increasing fostering.
But at the same time they are cutting the adoption and fostering budget by £1m.
The alternative is to pay the private sector or other local authorities to look after the children concerned. Last time the council closed Childrens homes, it increased costs by 41%.

Through concerted actions by parents and campaign groups, Charles House and Cambourne House were saved – these were respite homes for disabled children, rather than homes for children in care. Many of the children in care will not have parents who will fight for them. It is up to the residents of Birmingham to ensure that they are properly looked after, and to come together as a community to protect and help some of the most vulnerable citizens, who are also too young to have a voice at the ballot box.

The consultation on the childrens’ placement budget is ongoing. We will be campaigning on this, and we need support – especially if you live near a care home. Please get in touch with us if you want to be involved.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Citizens Advice Bureau in New Funding Cut Difficulties

Last year, Birmingham City Council cut its £600,000 funding to Birmingham Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which handles around 120,000 enquiries each year on a wide range of issues including employment, debt, benefits and immigration problems.

For many people, especially those experiencing financial problems as a result of the financial crash, recession and now austerity measures, CAB provide a lifeline with independent advisers ready to help people to sort out their problems in a way which is right for them rather than the banks or energy companies they owe money to.

The outcry over the potential closure of all offices, saw central government step in with £500,000 whilst Birmingham City Council agreed to a meagre £50,000 of funds to allow the CAB to continue its services.
Even so, the CAB made 6 staff redundant, and closed its office in Handsworth, which has the highest level of unemployment in the UK. Now again the whole service is under threat. Financial Inclusion Manager Flo Betts said:

Because of this fresh funding crisis our services are going to significantly reduce.

We will have to reduce our opening hours and we will no longer be in a position to help advise people who come in with all manner of problems from consumer issues, housing problems, employment issues, adoption queries to boundary disputes.

We feel like the charity is living on a knife edge at the moment.

Ultimately it will take just one more cut in funding for us to have to close our offices altogether.

CAB have launched an appeal to the public to try to raise £8,000 a month to keep their service running. We call on the council to set a needs based budget for 2012/13, and to restore the funding CAB needs to continue it services which are all the more vital in times of economic difficulty.
Join us on Tuesday 7th, from 5pm, to lobby the council at its full meeting.

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S.O.S: Save Our Shelforce

Shelforce is a supported factory that has been providing employmentfor adults with disabilities for over 27 years.
Shelforce is a manufacturing facility that produces PVCu and aluminium windows and a range of other products. Employment gives disabled people a positive focus in their lives and prevents them from becoming entrenched within their disability. They achieve a sense of pride and a feeling of holding a meaningful place within society.

For many years Shelforce has been generating a surplus for Birmingham City Council (BCC). However, due to a lack of support from BCC in developing the business and securing contracts, both internal and external to the council, Shelforce is now unable to trade to its full potential.

Shelforce is a unique supportive environment which caters for the development and support requirements of individuals who have various disabilities, including learning, physical, sensory and mental health. Shelforce as a supported factory does not focus on disability, it concentrates on ability which has proven to become a model that has succeeded in providing meaningful employment for disabled people.

As a career recently said

Shelforce was a last chance for my son to stay in employment as he had tried to work for external employers and it did not work out purely because there was a lack of understanding around disability and not enough support was available to cater for my son’s needs”

The sad reality is that if disabled employees lose their jobs at Shelforce they will probably never gain employment again.

Unison and the Shelforce members call upon the council to show a commitment to positive disability employment by continuing to invest in Shelforce and Forward 4 Work.

You can support them by writing to:
Councillor Alan Rudge
Council House
1 Victoria Square
Birmingham
B1 1BB

Or email your local councillor through Write to Them.

Join us and Shelforce on Tuesday 7th Feb from 5pm for the lobby of the council meeting, at which they will discuss next years budget, which is expected to make over £100m in cuts, instead of investing in services & business like Shelforce and the people who work for them.
Attend and invite on our facebook event

Here is a model letter you can use:

Dear Councillor

I am writing to you in support of the staff and service users at Shelforce and Forward 4 Work.

I understand it is the council’s intention to close or cut the services in these areas and put disabled people out of work.

I would call on you to support the staff and services they provide at these sites by rejecting any proposals leading to cuts in training or employment for disabled people.

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Kings Heath Connexions Closes As Unemployment Rises

Kings Heath saw the closure of its Connexions office today, the latest in a programme of cuts that has already seen the closure of offices in Handsworth and Erdington, covering two parliamentary constituencies with the highest unemployment rate in the UK.
Offices in Yardley and Northfield will follow suit soon, leaving just a single office on Broad Street in the city centre to cover the whole of Birmingham’s young peoples’ needs for career and training advice.
Connexions will no longer be in schools either, it will be down to the schools to find money in their budgets to pay for careers advice for their pupils – an example of how this government is squeezing schools budgets whilst still maintaining that they are not cutting funding.

The latest office closure came just the day before the latest unemployment figures were announced with over unemployment rising nationally by 118,000 people, to 2.6 million.
In the West Midlands, the unemployment rate is now 9.2%, and amongst youth that figure is higher.

Over 1,000,000 young people are looking for work at the moment, and in Birmingham, the service which has helped them to find work and training is being closed.
This kind of cut is madness. Unemployment is rising, so we close the services that help people to find work and training, and instead send them on workfare “work experience” schemes that provide free labour for large businesses.

It’s time to end the cuts, and implement the alternatives to austerity. Invest in our economy, create real jobs and growth, to end the deficit and ensure that people do not pay for the bankers gambling habits.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts

Lobby of Council Meeting, 7th Feb

Birmingham City Council’s next full meeting is on Tuesday 7th Feb, from 2pm to around 6pm-7pm.
At this meeting the budget for 2012/13 will be discussed. This budget will contain over £100m of cuts, in addition to the £212m cut from the current year.
After the sham of a consultation process, at which numerous motions were passed (and seemingly ignored) condemning the cuts, and calling for any level of cuts to be matched by cuts to the pay and expenses of senior council officials and councillors, it is important that we attend the meeting and continue to pressure the council over cuts. The budget will be voted on in March.

We will hold a demonstration outside the council house, and put as many people as possible in the public gallery. Last year, the gallery was full very early on and remained that way through the meeting.
Please Attend and invite on our facebook event

At this meeting we will also hand in our library petition.

The demonstration will begin at 5pm, when we will be joined by Shelforce workers and supporters, and we will be there until the meeting finishes (which may be at 6pm, but is more usually between 6:30pm and 7pm), so come and join us after work.

If you are free for the afternoon though, why not go and sit in the gallery and make sure your opposition to cuts is known to all in the chamber.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Events

Library Hours Reduction Petition Now Online

Handsworth Library Petition hand-in

At Last!!! Our Petition against Cuts in Library Provision & Opening Hours is online from today at the Birmingham City Council Website

Please get as many people as possible to sign up

We also want to hand in some signatures to the Council Meeting on Tue Jan 10th so please print off the attached paper petition & return urgently to BATC c/o Birmingham Trades Union Council, 54 – 57 Allison Street Digbeth B5 5TH

OR

Bring to Birmingham Against the Cuts Meeting Monday 9th January 6.30pm.
Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Building 46 Priory Queensway. B4 7NN

We will be collecting signatures outside the library tomorrow and Thursday from 5:30pm-6:30pm, please come and join us.

We are planning to hold a demonstration on Tue 10th January from 5.00 to 6.30pm, some of us will go into the full council meeting as well/afterwards.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, petition

Libraries Petition And Campaign

On Monday, Birmingham Central Library changed it’s opening times, closing at 6pm (instead of 8pm) on weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays. The library will now open at 10am.

The council have claimed this is in preperation for the move to the new library, but that is 18 months away, and surely the costs of the move should have been accounted for in the cost of the new library? We think this is a way to make cuts in the library budget.
Libraries around Birmingham are facing cuts, with shorter opening times, or fewer qualified librarians working in them.
These are an important community resource, offering books, learning resources, spaces for people to study and do homework, internet access and many other important services.

We oppose the shortening of library times and the deskilling of the service and will be campaigning on this.
Hall Green Library Supporters have been fighting for Hall Green library to keep its opening hours since we found out about the consultation re restructuring cynically and secretively started in Augus. They have a facebook group here
Handsworth Against the Cuts have been campaigning over the Friday closure of Handsworth Library.

We will be picketing at the central library as often as possible until Christmas, from 5:30pm-6:30pm, collecting signatures for a petition about the libraries.
You can download the petition here.
Please go along if you can – post here or on our facebook page and let people know when you can spare some time. With the German Markets on, this area is very busy. In one hour on Tuesday, 48 signatures were collected, and there is clearly a lot of support for the library. A few people turned up after 6pm to return books, or use the library to study.

We are planning to hold a demonstration on Monday 10th January, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, after which we will go to the full council meeting that is being held that day.
Come along to this demonstration, and we will plan a campaign to keep all the libraries across the city open for the amount of time needed by their users, and properly staffed so they can serve our communities properly.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, petition

Save Charles House, Kings Norton events

Update: Please see comments, Charles House will not be closed! Great news.

On Saturday, parents and children from Charles House, crowded into the surgery of Kings Norton Councillor Steve Bedser (Lab), accompanied by Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts. After a long meeting, the attendees were very pleased to hear that Steve Bedser pledged to give full public support to the campaign, at ward and Council level.

Following the meeting, we all trooped out to do over an hour’s street stall activity on Kings Norton Green. As usual, there was often a queue of people ready to sign the ever-growing petition, and some of the passers-by were even considering coming to the social on Thursday.

This all followed a meeting with Councillor Les Lawrence the previous day, where he seemed to have appeased the parents a little as he told them to think positive (suggesting a positive result for them?) and promised a decision by January 10th. He made the right noises, saying that respite care provision was important. He also acknowledged that Charles House children are not suitable for respite care with foster carers.

However, a word of caution; similar reassuring noises were heard from Councillor Lawrence about Merrishaw Community Day Nursery earlier this year. There were allegations of scaremongering. Two other Tory councillors from Northfield then gave their backing to the nursery, but the the shutters suddenly went up and the toys were shipped out. The campaign to save Charles House will not rest until its future, with a full level of resourcing, is in black and white.

The next planning meeting of SACAC is this Wednesday, 6.15pm at the Stirchley Community Church, (canteen), Hazelwell St. Stirchley.

Bob Whitehead, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

You can read more about the campaign to save Charles House on B31 Voices, including testimonies from parents, or in our own archive of posts.
If you want to get involved with the campaign, can email charleshouseparents@gmail.com or join their facebook group. There is also a campaign to save Cambourne House, a similar disabled childrens’ respite home in Aston, who have a facebook group.

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Filed under Events, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Save Charles House Petition Hand In Tomorrow

Save Charles House campaign will hand in the petition against its possible closure to the council during their meeting tomorrow.
Councillor Andy Cartwright will submit the petition to the council meeting on behalf of the campaign and it would be great for people to be there when it happens.

The meeting runs from 2pm-8pm tomoroow (Tues 6th December). The parents campaign have a facebook group and if you want to get involved with the campaign either ask to join the group, or you can email charleshouseparents@gmail.com

B31 Voices has been following the campaign closely and has organised the petition. You can read more about Charles House and find parents’ testimonies of the service there.

In addition to Charles House, 4 other homes face closure. Cambourne House in Aston has a parents campaign, if you use the service or want to help them, email us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com and we’ll put you in contact. If you are a parent or staff member at one of the other homes, we would encourage you to put together a campaign. With enough pressure we can make the council reconsider their plans entirely. We can help you to advertise the campaign and support you with ideas and experience.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts