Thursday, 2 September 2010

City councils cuts Working Neighbourhoods Funding

In another stunning example of government 'fairness' , £49.9 million was slashed from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund in June. The fund is used by councils to support projects in deprived areas that have particularly high levels of unemployment. It seems that the more jobs that are lost, the deeper the cuts this government inflicts on programmes that try to help.

In Birmingham, the Fund has supported the Community Chest that allows voluntary organisations to bid for money, along with a range of initiatives to co-ordinate efforts to improve skills and help people find work. With a very difficult economic outlook for our city, you might have expected the Council to make the most of this money. But as well as cutting the budget, the Government removed the 'ring-fence' around the fund, and this has allowed some councils to reduce spending even more than the Government recommended.

A report today says: "Birmingham City Council has cut its £70 million budget by £7 million – £3 million more than was recommended". Nicola Smith, a Senior Policy Officer for the TUC, observes that "...some local authorities will choose to cut the programmes that have lower overall public awareness and that provide support to those constituencies with the least voice – programmes for the most vulnerable are at greatest risk."

This is no more than we have come to expect from Birmingham's Tories and their Lib Dem hangers on. The deeper the wounds inflicted by Tory cuts the more voters must be wondering, what on earth is the point of the Lib Dems?