Birmingham City Council leader John Cotton hits out at £1bn government cuts amid ‘bankruptcy’

Birmingham City Council leader John Cotton outlines which services will be protected amid financial ruin at full council meeting

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Leader of Birmingham’s crisis-hit council, John Cotton, has issued a defiant message to the people of Birmingham, while outlining what services will remain protected as the local authority – the biggest in Europe – begins to navigate its way out of a state of financial ruin.

Birmingham City Council effectively bankrupt - details: Last week, senior council officers issued a Section 114 Notice to call on the help of the British government amid debts that could rise up to a £1 billion. Birmingham faces an equal pay liability of up to £800m while, earlier this year, it was revealed how the council also needs to stump up £100m to fix its flawed IT system, Oracle, which was intended to help streamline payments across its public services.

In July, Birmingham City Council ceased non-essential spending with immediate effect in a bid to tighten the purse strings, a move that sparked real concern amongst residents, staff and business owners across the city.

What services will be protected? During a full council meeting of the 101 councillors in Birmingham this week, leader Coun Cotton attempted to reassure the public and explained how social care and children’s services will remain the top priority despite upcoming council cuts in the wake of the city’s financial implosion.

Birmingham City Council chamber in session, leader Cllr John Cotton and deputy Cllr Sharon ThompsonBirmingham City Council chamber in session, leader Cllr John Cotton and deputy Cllr Sharon Thompson
Birmingham City Council chamber in session, leader Cllr John Cotton and deputy Cllr Sharon Thompson

Birmingham City Council Leader John Cotton hits out at £1bn government cuts to local authority spending

Cllr Cotton said: “As someone who’s born and bred in this city, I know that times are tough for many of us at the moment. The council’s facing a series of major challenges. We’ve got rising demands on our services; we’re facing rampant inflation and a cost of living crisis. And we’ve had over a decade of Conservative cuts that have seen our budget slashed by £1 billion.

“Last week, this council issued a Section 114 notice to the government indicating that the council is in financial difficulties. I want to reassure you that our core services will be continuing. We will still be collecting your bins and we will still be providing care for your relatives, and we will still be looking after our children.

“And crucially, Birmingham is still open for business and there is a way forward. Of course, we understand that this is a worrying time for people across the city that’s been short-changed by Tory governments since 2010. Now, more than ever, we need a Labour government that will provide sustainable long-term funding for councils. A government that will give local authorities like ours the tools we need to build homes, to create jobs and grow our local economy.

“So, whilst here in Birmingham, we will take responsibility for tackling the specific issues facing this council. We need government support to navigate the perfect storm that is facing local government right across Britain. As the leader of your Labour council it’s my job to listen to your concerns and to protect the services that matter most to you. I want to work with you to build a better Birmingham.”

When will we find out what services are being cut?

An ‘extraordinary meeting’ has now been called for Monday, September 25 when city council leaders must present their financial recovery plan. It will also spell out where the axe will fall if any cuts are needed, and outline the next steps.