Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, will be available online from 6.30pm to 7.30pm next Wednesday (19 December 2012) to answer your questions on the council’s budget.
The council launched its budget consultation 2013/14 earlier this month and is keen to hear your views.
For Wednesday’s live webchat with Sir Albert, please use hashtag #askalbert
If you can’t join us for the webchat but have a question, email email@example.com
A previous ‘Ask Albert’ webchat in October attracted questions on a wide range of topics related to the tough budget decisions faced by the council.
As he formally launched the 2013/14 budget consultation on December 6, Sir Albert said: “The average reduction in Government funding for the country as a whole has amounted to £74 per person. However, Birmingham’s reduction has been more than double the national average, at £149 per person. If Birmingham’s grant had been cut by the same amount as the national average then it would have received an extra £80m each year. Many cities in this country need a fair share and I intend to take this back to Government.
“More than two thirds of our income comes from central Government, and if those grants are turned off then we won’t just catch a cold, we will catch influenza.
“The combined impact of grant reduction and rising local costs means the council will have to make savings of more than £600m by 2016/17, as illustrated by our ‘jaws of doom’ graph*.
“When we are taking out, over six years, around 50 per cent of the budget the council has control over then this will be reflected in the number and size of service cuts that we have to make.
“We can’t go on any longer treating the budget exercise in the way we have previously. We will now have to look at all services in terms of what are statutory and what are fit for purpose, and if there is not a near zero-cost solution then we will have to decommission.
“This is no longer a matter of whether we close down services or individuals lose services, but by how much those services are reduced or taken out altogether.
“This is now a very different ball-game, no more salami-slicing, those days end with this budget. We are now talking about removing services that the people of this city value, services that vulnerable children and adults in this city need.
“This will now affect Birmingham as an economy, we need a pleasant place in which to live and work, but the city will suffer. These cuts are dramatic this year and they will continue to be dramatic in years to come.”
Sir Albert added that the Chancellor’s statement yesterday did not help. The two per cent budget cut to the Department for Communities and Local Government and local government itself in 2014/15 would impact further on town halls up and down the country.