Hundreds of people in Birmingham this Saturday will be demonstrating with a call for councillors to vote against cuts at the council meeting on 1st March. The planned cuts will see £212m slashed from the council budgets this year, at the cost of 2,450 jobs and many services, such as adult care services and youth centres:
Job Losses – 2,450 council posts will be cut this year (7,000 over 3 years) and 5,000 posts privatised (making it easier to cut funding in the future). Birmingham already has an unemployment rate twice the national average and cannot afford to lose thousands more jobs.
- Adult Care Services – 11,000 people who currently receive care having been assessed as having “substantial” care needs will no longer be eligible for home care, day care or residential care and will lose their care services. Overall, more than £33million will be cut from Adult Care Services, affecting older people, those with learning and physical disabilities and people with mental health problems.
- Youth Services – £3m will be cut from Birmingham Youth Services budgets. Such a cut would close over 40 youth projects (more than 2/3rds) across the city and deprive young people and communities’ easy access to trained and qualified youth workers.
- Heart of England PCT – 1,600 jobs to go, affecting NHS services in this city, and this is only 1 of 5 PCT’s to serve Birmingham so there will probably be more job losses to come. At least 4,000 NHS Jobs will be lost across the West Midlands.
- Neighbourhood Office and CAB closures – CAB has been temporarily saved but neighbourhood offices are still under threat. Both of these provide vital and free advice on financial, legal & housing problems and council services. As unemployment rises, these services will become more important.
- £10 million cuts in Children’s Social Care, affecting “looked after” children, some of the most vulnerable children in the city.
- £1.3 million cuts in library services, £1 million cuts in grants to arts and £1.25 million cuts in funding for Museums with entry charges “almost decided”. Ikon Eastside will be closing and this will probably just be the first of many cultural venues in Birmingham to shut down.
- Pay Cuts and terms and conditions reviews for 26,000 council staff including refuse workers who have already been on strike.
- Community Safety Partnership – £1.6m less spending on, and reduction in funding for West Midlands Police Force (2,200 jobs to be lost, including 600 officers) will see rising crime.
These cuts will affect every person in this city, and every person has their own reason to be there. Godfrey Webster, Secretary of Birmingham Against the Cuts, says:
“There is an increasing mood of anger amongst the ordinary people of Birmingham who are furious about the proposed cuts to jobs, services and pensions. There is a growing awareness that these cuts, being carried out by the Conservative-Lib Dem Council, are political in nature. The poor, women and the vulnerable should not be made to pay for the bankers’ greed. ”
The demonstration meets at 12 noon, Birmingham Cathedral and will march around the city centre before reconvening at the Cathedral for a rally, at which the Bishop of Birmingham will address the city, along with speakers from CWU, PCS, UCU and Unison trade unions, Bob Williams-Findlay from Disabled People Against the Cuts and Caroline Johnson from Birmingham Against the Cuts.
On Tuesday, from 2pm-6pm there will be a demonstration outside Birmingham City Council house in Victoria Square, whilst the council meets to vote on the budget. During the budget meeting Cllr Salma Yaqoob will present a petition to the chamber from the people of Birmingham calling for councillors to vote against the budget that will have such a detrimental effect on so many citizens of Birmingham.
Over the past few days and weeks many councils across the UK have met to vote on budget cuts, and there have been strong demonstrations at all of them. Some councils have decided to close their public gallery, removing the right of citizens to observe and partake in the democratic process, and there have even been arrests at a couple of meetings. Closing the gallery has led to occupations of council chambers in Brixton, Leeds and Haringey and impromptu peoples’ assemblies which have discussed the impact of council cuts on local people.
There is a rising mood against cuts in the UK which Birmingham will be part of on Saturday and Tuesday. Join Us.