On Tuesday 4th March Birmingham City Council held its annual budget meeting. This years budget, like the 3 previous held since a Tory-led Government came to power, was delivered in the face of more savage cuts to Local Government funding.
Below I have clarified the financial situation of Birmingham since May 2010;
1: Birmingham only receives 9% of its annual income from Council Tax.
2: Birmingham receives its other funding through various grants from Central Government. The total budget for Birmingham in 2013/14 is £2.9bn
3: Two-thirds of the Government grants are ringfenced meaning the Council can’t touch them and they must go to the spending area they’re designated for.
4: The one-third left is what is known as the controllable budget. Since May 2010, following severe Government cuts, Birmingham City Council has had to shave £500+ million of its controllabe budget. If the Tories remain in Government after 2015, this will rise to £800m.
So there is the real context of the financial challenge Birmingham City Council faces. Unfortunately, reality hasn’t bitten the Birmingham Tories who proposed a budget amendment that was dragged from the land of make believe and drafted a pretty dire leaflet to accompany it. The Tories in Northfield constituency have been spreading a lot of myths, rumours and untruths in the last few days. Below are a number of facts that refute them;
Fact 1: Frankley Library will not close. We are looking at ways of retaining the current levels of service following a public meeting attended by 96 residents. And there will still be library services in all 4 Wards in Northfield District.
Fact 2: There will continue to be a swimming pool in Northfield. Labour is investing £6m in a brand new facility.
Fact 3: The new LED street lights are still brighter when dimmed than the old street lights. There has been no impact on crime figures in Longbridge when the lights have been dimmed. NB. The Tories dimmed the lights when they ran Birmingham.
Fact 4: The new play area in Cofton Park is not closing. The play area was opened last summer and will stay open.
Fact 5: The Park Ranger service is remaining in place. They will continue to provide and excellent service and work with all of our green spaces voluntary groups.
Fact 6: The resources for repairing potholes are already included in the council’s PFI contract with Amey.
Fact 7: Council tax is increasing below inflation by just 1.99%, and only after a comprehensive public consultation exercise. The residents of Longbridge undersatnd Birmingham City Council is the victim of savage Government cuts and want to contribute to services.
Fact 8: The Tories would have you believe free green waste collections had been around forever. Actually they were introduced in 2007. This is when the previous Labour Government gave a very generous grant to Birmingham. When the Tory Government cuts started in 2010 the service became financially unviable. The Tory Administration propped up the service by using money designed to bring areas of deprivation out of poverty and to help people gain the skills for work.
So there you have it. Facts. Not rumours. Not untruths. Not myths. Just Facts.