Birmingham Council On The Brink - Fight For Services We Need

September 5, 2023

Since the following article was first published, Birmingham City Council has issued a "Section 114" notice. The closest a local council can come to bankruptcy, this will likely lead to further savage cuts to local services by the local Labour leadership alongside unelected commissioners appointed by central government. Already the council is effectively planning "redundancy on the cheap" for large sections of the workforce through "mutually agreed resignation", with workers leaving the council to be replaced by staff on inferior pay and conditions or not at all.

Birmingham Socialist Party stands with council workers and working class communities in any campaigns that will emerge against further attempts to make workers pay through austerity.

Birmingham residents are in a state of uncertainty about the future of local government public services. Birmingham City Council has announced a financial ‘black hole’ of £870 million. The Labour council’s leadership claims a bill of £760 million to meet council workers’ equal pay claims. And £100 million to fix a failing IT system, which the council moved over to despite concerns raised by council staff and trade unions that it was not fit for purpose. The IT system has resulted in bills not being invoiced and staff and residents receiving delays in payments.

The council has frozen all ‘non-essential’ payments, threatening jobs and services. School transport for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities has been cancelled, leaving these vulnerable children unable to get to school. The council evidently doesn’t consider this essential!

This year’s financial crisis is in stark contrast to last year’s Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, which cost the taxpayer £780 million with at least £250 million of that paid by the council. One year on and money which would supposedly be generated by this event is nowhere to be found, at least not in investment in public services or better pay for staff.

Funding needed

Rishi Sunak has said central government will not help bail Birmingham council out. Birmingham’s funding from central government since 2010 has been slashed by nearly half – or £750 million.

It is clear this crisis is the result of a decade of austerity.

The Labour council is instead trying to blame council workers who are asking for money which they are owed. This divide-and-conquer tactic of council workers vs the community is an attempt to hide the fact that for over a decade, the Labour council has implemented Tory austerity instead of fighting for the funding Birmingham needs.

If the Labour council is unwilling to fight for more funding, what Birmingham needs is a political voice for the working class that is prepared to fight. Candidates standing in elections on an anti-cuts platform offer an alternative to the status quo of making the working class pay with higher council taxes for worse or non-existent services. Socialist Party members have stood in elections in Birmingham on such a platform, alongside trade unionists and campaigners, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

We campaign to end the cuts and restore lost services, to use borrowing powers and reserves to ensure no cuts are carried out immediately and to fight with trade unions, community groups and council staff to fight for the funding required from central government.

Written by workers for workers.

The media never covers the real struggles of the working class. Instead they spread lies and misinformation. That's why we have our own newpaper and email list.

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We are a branch of the Socialist Party, the English and Welsh section of the Committee for a Workers' International - a worldwide revolutionary socialist organisation with parties and groups in countries across the globe.
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