Council meets budget challenge

By on 11/02/2011 in News, Video News

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More than £3.5billion will be spent on providing services for the people of Birmingham, as outlined in the city council's budget, due before Cabinet on (Monday) February 14.

To help citizens in the current challenging times, it is proposed the council's share of Council Tax for 2011/12 will be frozen at this year's level.

Cllr Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We know that the public sector has to support the government's commitment to tackle the structural deficit - and Birmingham City Council will play its role.

“Undoubtedly this has been one of the most challenging budgets to plan - as we need to find more than £300million over the next three-to-four years, much of it front-loaded, with a challenge of £212million in the first year alone.

“However, we have a strong track record of fiscal stability and making savings. Following recent praise from our independent auditor for our 'significant achievement' in financial management, I am confident we are putting forward a suite of proposals which deliver the necessary savings, as well as prioritising critical frontline services.

“Although, inevitably, there will be a focus on reduced spend across the public sector it is important to remember that more than £3.5billion is still to be spent on quality public services by Birmingham City Council. Transformational projects will continue, and we will continue to focus on protecting the vulnerable, keeping our city safe and clean, and helping people succeed economically.

“In the last four years Birmingham City Council has worked hard to minimise increases in Council Tax, having delivered the lowest average increase of any metropolitan authority over the last five years - significantly below inflation. This year the Council will be ensuring there is no increase in Council Tax - as we continue to help all our residents, particular the elderly, the vulnerable, and those on low and fixed incomes.”

The Fire & Rescue Authority also meets on February 14 and the Police Authority on February 17, to approve their respective shares of the Council Tax bill for 2011/12.

This information will be factored into the final report that goes to a Full City Council meeting on March 1.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “I have been lobbying hard on the city's behalf with the Government in particular for additional freedoms that would come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which would allow us to borrow against future business rate income.

“We have to play the hand we have been dealt, and have come up with the best budget we could in these challenging economic circumstances.

“Birmingham has a track record of innovation and service improvement and we have drawn on these strengths to produce our budget which ensures that statutory and essential services get the best funding packages possible, along with fresh investment in the modernisation projects that will enable the city to thrive in the years ahead.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Council Business Plan 2011 - http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy/Pages/GetDoc.aspx?DocumentID%3dxTtbGx1pdUQ%253d%26MimeType%3dapplication%2fpdf%26DocName%3dCouncil+Business+Plan+2011+%2b.pdf

Points of note: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Points-of-note-in-budget1.doc

The council's leadership has created a strategic framework for the way Portfolios and Directorates should approach their saving and service plans. Described as the “seven principles” these guide a new approach to service delivery, which should capture the need to:

  1. Transform our efficiency – using all the tools available to protect and deliver priority outcomes, at a reduced price.
  2. Prevent problems - ensuring today's choices are strategic and avoid creating future problems
  3. Helping people help themselves - as an “enabling and empowering” council we need to help individuals and communities to become more self-sufficient and to take more responsibility for their communities.
  4. Collaborate between service areas and public agencies - whatever label you give it (Total Place, Community Budgets) there is an eminently sensible, but difficult to achieve, goal of truly aligned spending across the public sector. It is now imperative that we realise this goal.
  5. Personalise - moving away from a “one size fits all” approach, and unlocking the savings that derive from people having greater say about the services they want to use.
  6. Maximise income streams - sensitively, and with the public's interest at heart, maximising the returns from the assets we have and the activities we undertake by being more commercially minded.
  7. Lever in funds from the private sector - recognising the role of the Private Sector, and the increasing importance of sophisticated partnerships, where risk and reward are shared equitably

Each service area is proposing to meet the challenge of the making the savings - and delivering the services. Put simply, their plans are:

Adults & Communities:
A bold new operating model based on investment in prevention and re-enablement, with limited core funding directed to people who have limited funds and critical needs.

Children, Young People & Families:
Re-modelling and focussing on protecting the most vulnerable, with integrated teams who can manage the transition between different levels of need.

Back Office & Resources:
Refined, integrated and cost-effective. Providing efficient governance and the minimum safe-levels of support.

Development & Regeneration:
Focusing on the city's economic success through our 'Big City Plan' and major capital schemes as the catalysts for growth and job creation. Working with the private sector and raising revenue.

Environment & Culture:
Maximising income and the potential from the Big Society, recognising art and culture as the engines for economic growth, and modernising service delivery.

Housing & Constituencies:
Integrated and streamlined local management underpinned by detailed service reviews to, improve frontline service delivery

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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