Working together for a fair, prosperous and democratic Birmingham
We have implemented much of the manifesto on which we were elected in 2012. In this year's election we set out further pledges to build on that success in the year ahead. This is a positive agenda for change at a critical time in the city's history.
We launched our Business Charter for Social Responsibility to help build Birmingham's economy and drive social responsibility in areas of the city where it is needed most. The Living Wage is a key element of the Charter and whilst we have provided it to all council staff, adoption of the Charter will help to make Birmingham a Living Wage City. We have set up our Fair Money Campaign and Welfare Reform Working Group, appointed a Victims' Champion and launched
the Victims' Charter. We developed the Birmingham Baccalaureate for roll out across the city, championed by the inauguration of the Birmingham Education Partnership. We have set out a programme of transformation and investment for leisure services and doubled investment in the Be Active scheme, ensuring that physical activity is not restricted by cost.
We have established our Economic Zones and Enterprise Zone, created the Birmingham Jobs Fund, which alone has supported well over 1,000 young people into work or training. We have taken forward the New Street Gateway, Birmingham Airport and Paradise Circus developments. We have published the draft Urban Mobility Plan, extended the Metro line, secured cross-party support for High Speed Two, developed plans for the regeneration of the Curzon Station area and expanded investment in cycling. We have started the modernisation of our refuse collection service. Our Green City and Smart City Commissions, the Youth Unemployment Commission and the Social Inclusion Process have developed practical and far reaching proposals which we are now taking forward.
The citizens of Birmingham and the City Council are facing extremely difficult times as a result of the economic recession and the austerity measures that have followed. This calls for strong, consistent and responsible leadership. We have maintained our focus on the top priority of improving our child safeguarding service and we have led the city in making a calm, measured response to the governance issues that have emerged in some Birmingham schools.
Despite the difficulties we face we have a positive vision for the city. We understand that the City Council needs to change radically if we are to achieve our aims with drastically reduced resources. As we said in our manifesto, this must be a time of reform, not just cuts. We have already made enormous savings through reducing the number of buildings we use and redesigning our back office systems. We have now reshaped the City Council into just three directorates focused on the people we serve, the places where they live and the economic success of our city that underlies all our aspirations. All three will work closely together to achieve our aims.
Our goals will remain the same: to work with public services, businesses and the people of Birmingham to create a city that is fairer, more prosperous and more democratic. This encapsulates the values with which we will lead the city.
A fair city is a place where people are not excluded from education, training and jobs, good health or decent housing because of their background or where they live. It is a place in which people are safe from crime and abuse and victims receive justice. It is a place in which children are protected and older people are cared for with dignity in their own community. It is a place that celebrates its diversity and rejects all forms of discrimination.
A prosperous city is one in which local entrepreneurs can thrive, with a quality of life that attracts inward investment and individuals from around the world. It is a place for inventors, designers and creators with thriving colleges and universities and a highly skilled population. It is seeking to be a Smart, Green and Sustainable City with a transport infrastructure that provides mobility for all and easy access to national and global markets.
A democratic city is a united community in which everyone has a duty to contribute to civic life and a right to be heard as equals. It is a place where public services are accountable to their users and belong to the wider community, whoever delivers them. It is a place where services and the council are seeking to work together across the whole city region and in each neighbourhood to focus on the “whole place” and the “whole person”. It is a place where citizens work together to look after and improve their local neighbourhood and offer support to their neighbours.
This is the vision for Birmingham that inspires this administration and drives everything we do as a City Council. Since 2012 we have laid some of the foundations for success, but we now need to redouble our efforts and focus even more acutely on some of the long standing areas of challenge - integrating health and social care services, transforming children's and education services (and responding to the recent government and Ofsted reports), driving forward a radically different approach to neighbourhood services, including housing and working more closely across the city region to support sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs. This is the year we must accelerate the implementation of our vision for “city government” and secure the reforms we need from central government following next year's General Election.
This year will see a new approach to Special Educational Needs and Early Years provision, as part of a broader review of the future of education services, new plans to improve our offer to young people and a new Child Poverty Commission. We will launch a new Apprenticeship Agency and a Skills Investment Plan and develop a further Enterprise Zone to attract and develop high tech businesses. We will publish the Birmingham Development Plan and accelerate plans to build new low energy homes. We will conduct a radical new review of local governance in the city.
The budget for 2015-16, upon which we will consult during this year, will be the most challenging yet, because we estimate we will need to make £159m of new cuts, beyond those we have already identified. To help us do this, an intensive service review process has now started and we plan to present the conclusions for consultation in the autumn.
But whatever challenges this year brings I am determined that we will remain true to the vision and the values set out in our 2014 manifesto and in this statement.
With the support and contribution of the people, communities, public services and businesses of this great city we can work together, Stand up for Birmingham and make further progress towards our goals.