On Wednesday 25th July Counsellor Ian Ward attended our Branch Committee meeting, he came to speak with us and to answer some questions. He talked about our housing need, the Commonwealth Games and HS2. He also talked of the pressures of budget cuts and the next 3 years.
“Between us we’ve got to work out a way forward through this”
“We’re not expecting the impossible from staff we continue to employ over the next three years”
“We would like to rebalance our workforce in terms of age and ethnicity”
We asked about having money for the Commonwealth Games but not for the city, Counsellor Ward talked about “taking the city forward as a whole” and the games delivering “transformational change for the city”
Another report from the meeting sums up what Cllr ward said as :
- The city itself is undergoing a bit of a boom right now with lots of construction in the city centre and beyond
- Housing. To eliminate the shortfall in housing and keep pace with growth in population we need to build another 91,000 homes by 2031 but there is only space in Birmingham itself to build 51,000 so we will have to look to the surrounding authorities to provide space for the remaining 40,000.
- HS2 is expected to generate an extra £1.3bn pa for the Birmingham economy, but obviously little of that would go direct to council coffers.
- The Commonwealth Games, Cllr Ward mentioned that the funding for the Games is largely capital from the Combined Authority and Universities, and there is actually little cost to BCC.(note : the government is suppoed to give around 75% of the cost and so this will be 25%)
- The council budget is in a critical condition with risks of a budget overspend next year despite releasing another £30million from reserves. The external auditors are due to publish their view in a few weeks but are said to be unimpressed and to be demanding that the council set a balanced budget.
- Cuts .Central Government have announced plans for further cuts of £123million over the next three years for Birmingham Due to the high levels of unemployment and deprivation in Birmingham the council is more reliant on the central government grant than other councils.
- If the council maintained just the statutory services they currently provide at their current level then there would be no money for any other services.
- The elected members recognise the extra effort staff have put in and do not expect staff to do the impossible