Birmingham City Council announced the contents of the repsonse to the Kerslake Report on June 29th.
The Report was set up to be responded back to at regular stages by the Tory Government. Its' aim was to make the council be better organised and more responsive to the electorate. However , some see it as a back door to Birmingham being ruled by the Tories in London as the Secretary of State can intervene and ultimately break up the authority.
The report also hints at what may happen :
- This includes a whole-system review approach to role definition of Elected Members and Officers, staff/union engagement procedures and formal decision making processes.
This hints at the review of what Councillors and Officers should and shouldn't do and how much power they have in making decisions. It also unfortuantley looks at the way staff and unions engage with management . A major concern would be if the Council seek to lessen staff and Union engagement.
- The level of savings delivered has fallen below the planned level, and other spending pressures have also emerged, which has meant that additional uses of reserves have been required over and above original plans to balance and deliver the budget since 2015/16.
The report mentions that the Council has failed to get a grip on its' spending. It continually over spent over a number of years , using up its' reserves of money to balance budgets. It also has meant the level of savings made have been below target.It's reported in the Birmingham Post that it is already saying it's £27million overspent this financial year. The report also states"It acknowledges that this will mean very difficult decisions must be made and implemented without delay." This could mean less money for some services and possible withdrawal of services and job losses.
- " The budget setting process will also focus on exploration of the opportunities for service re-design and partnership working and with links to the development of capital and asset strategies. In this way, the Council can streamline the resources it uses to make a best fit with the priorities of the Council and reduce spend on lower priority areas. "
This hints at more job losses through service re-design and possible take over by going down the privatisation route to establish trusts out of the council's direct control. The word "streamline" suggests an aim to lessen its' resources - staff and money possibly, to operate on what it has said were it's priority areas and spend little on it's areas of non-priroity, which may include libraries for example.
In the minutes to the meeting There was talk of commercialisation and commissioning of services. Cllr Ward and dawn Baxendale were alo reported as seeking constructive dialog wiith Unions . But did not define what that may mean. Futher meetings are planned this year.
Whatever happens , it looks likely that services will remain threatened and indeed in the national press the Local Govenment Association has warned that services are on the "brink of collapse" nationwide and will be "damaged beyond recognition" unless the Government plugs an £8billion spending gap.The Chairman Lord Porter said : "...Councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect,including our most vulnerable-let alone help the country to prosper"
The Council's Stocktake report can be downloaded below. Download Kerslake stock take report File