Monthly Archives: December 2015

Housing for homes and hope

You won’t be surprised to read that my first few weeks as leader of Birmingham City Council has been one long round of meetings, as I introduce myself to many of the people I believe can play a role in Birmingham’s resurgence.

I’ve met with business leaders, Government ministers, police officials, community and faith leaders, third sector organisations and more.

Many of the people I’ve had talks with are regularly featured in the pages of the Birmingham Mail and will be well known to people across the city, but one meeting that particularly stands out was with a family that most of you will never have heard of.

The Karem family in Nechells recently moved from a one-bedroom flat to a house with a front garden and a back garden thanks to the pioneering work of the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust.

I caught up with them just weeks after the move and our meeting underlined for me why the first priority in Birmingham must be to build more homes.

Housing transforms lives, it transforms futures. It has an impact on people’s physical and mental health, it has impacts on education and much more.

You could see what moving to their new home meant to the Karems. You could see the joy and pride on their faces and it was wonderful to share in that joy and excitement.

There’s a housing crisis in this country and Birmingham is no exception. We need more affordable homes, we need more social housing and we need to give people hope.

The Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust is building houses in the hundreds and I’m absolutely determined that the city as a whole must now move towards building thousands.

To do that, the city council can’t act in isolation. The massive cuts to our central government funding have been well documented in this newspaper and we’ve made it clear that the council of the future will inevitably play a smaller role in city life.

But we can help create the right conditions for change. We can work with developers and landowners, we can look at creative ways to fund the housing that people across this city, people like the Karem family, need and deserve.

Building homes in the thousands each year across Birmingham by looking to release finance from the city’s other assets also helps build our economy and create new jobs and skills. There are so many benefits.

So as we look ahead and set goals for the next 12 months, my priority is clear: 2016 has to be the year when we step up a gear to provide the housing our city needs.

This blog first appeared in the Birmingham Mail on 31 December 2015.

My response to today’s local government settlement

My response to today’s local government settlement

“We are very disappointed to see that Birmingham is once again one of the hardest hit authorities. We will receive a 4.8% cut in spending power per dwelling, yet the national average is a 2.8% cut, and authorities like Horsham and East Devon will actually receive increases of around 8% and 7%. This translates to £100 less per dwelling for Birmingham compared to £52 less for England as a whole for 2016/17. This is despite the Government taking on board our Fairer Funding proposals. However, I welcome the Secretary of State’s agreement to meet with our MPs to discuss how Birmingham can get a better deal from the government.

“Although we fully support the intention to give councils more independence by allowing them to keep business rates instead of relying on government grant after 2020, Birmingham needs enough funding to support vital public services.

“We will analyse the data in detail and of course await the final settlement in the New Year before we can come to a clear view on how it impacts on our budget plans. However our first impressions are that there is little to celebrate for next year, although it would seem that the later years of this four-year deal show an improvement against our forecast, whilst still involving huge grant reductions.”

Responding to calls for another budget meeting

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr John Clancy, has responded to calls for more consultation on budget proposals by adding a third public meeting in the south of the city.

The 2016+ budget consultation, setting out budget proposals for 2016/17 – 2019/20, was published last week and, in addition to a range of meetings with groups affected, public meetings have already been held in Erdington and the Council House.

Now a third, post-Christmas, meeting has been added to the schedule, with Cllr Clancy and his Cabinet answering public questions at St Nicholas Place, Kings Norton, on Wednesday 6 January.

Cllr Clancy said: “Presenting such stark choices to the people of Birmingham has not been the easiest thing to do in my first two weeks as leader of the council. But it’s vital that we speak to people about the choices we’re making and work with the city to plan for a future with dramatically reduced funding.

“I’m keen to speak to as many people as possible about these proposals and this additional meeting will give people in the south of the city an opportunity to make their views known.

“In general terms I’m keen to speak to individuals, community groups, charities, businesses and others as we redesign Birmingham City Council.”

Book a place at the 6 January public meeting: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-city-council-budget-consultation-2016-at-saint-nicolas-place-kings-norton-registration-19998488016

In addition to the Kings Norton meeting, Cabinet will be online for a second Budget Q&A webcast on Thursday 7 January.

You can view Monday’s Budget Q&A webcast here: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/archive-budget-qa-webcast/

The budget consultation closes on 8 January 2015 and residents can also: