2 March 2015
The Birmingham Green Party believes that Birmingham Council's leaders are helping to permanently remove essential public services if it votes through devastating cuts in its 2015 budget, and of ultimately worsening economic conditions in the region.
Birmingham Green Party campaigner, Ian Jamieson, said: “These cuts are part of a Government agenda to permanently remove public services by stealth. Despite grumbles from Albert Bore about the way the council has been treated, he and his Labour colleagues appear to be helping the Government achieve its aims.
"Many of the cuts are completely unnecessary, despite what we are being led to believe. And yet our councillors have done nothing to challenge them. Of course, this shouldn't surprise us since the Labour Party is pro-austerity. I believe Mr Bore should resign: Birmingham deserves so much better."
The Green Party is anti-austerity and believes that redundancies will only make things worse at a time when the City is already unable to provide suitable housing, health provision and utilities.
Mr Jamieson added: "Although the Council claims it has no choice but to push the cuts through, I believe that it could have worked with other councils, particularly those in the north which have seen the worst cuts, to collectively bargain with the Government to negotiate a less brutal, and better managed, long term plan for their respective budgets."
23 councils, the majority based in the north, will see spending power reductions of over 5%, while Birmingham has 6% less spending power as a result of Government cuts to its budget. In contrast, 17 Home Counties authorities will see an increase of over 2% in their spending power: all of them are Tory-run.
Unemployment in Birmingham is already at 6.5%, significantly higher than across the UK as a whole (2.6%). The Council budget will see it make a further 6,000 people unemployed; essentially diminishing the region’s spending power.
Instead of making people redundant, the Green Party maintains that councils should look to create jobs through initiatives such as house building and retrofitting programmes. Birmingham Against the Cuts has argued that an investment in housing would not only meet a growing need, but would be profitable. An investment in housing would pay itself back over time while bringing homeless people off the streets and back into society.
Last month the Green Party pledged to build 500,000 new social rented homes by 2020. This would be partly funded by reforming landlord tax allowances, starting with scrapping the mortgage interest tax allowance. The other part would come from council borrowing, which would pay for itself over time.
Birmingham City Council borrowed £198 million to build a library which brings in no income at all. We are arguing that a more forward thinking plan would have been to borrow to build homes, which would meet a housing need in the short term and provide an income for the future.
We would also bring empty homes back into use, end the right to buy, provide better support for tenants in privately rented accommodation, and take action on soaring rents.