Thursday, 14 October 2010

The axe is about to fall on Birmingham's jobs and services

Anyone working for Birmingham City Council now knows that mass job cuts are a grim reality.

Yesterday, Stephen Hughes – Birmingham’s Chief Executive - emailed all staff with the announcement that everyone will have the “opportunity” to take voluntary redundancy. It cannot possibly end there. There can’t be many people who are going to willingly give up a job in the current climate. Sackings are inevitable, and on a large scale.

In his email, Stephen Hughes says, “Over the next three to four years we estimate that we will need to reduce our spending by £330 million – around a third of what we currently spend.” Yes, you have read it right. One third of all council spending is going to be axed.

The cost to the city in economic activity will be enormous. The council is probably the biggest buyer of services in Birmingham. A cut of one-third in its spending is going to have a major knock-on effect on shops, contractors, and suppliers. Many thousands of people are at risk, directly and indirectly.

The Chief Executive ends his email by pledging his “...determination to continue to provide the best possible service to Birmingham’s citizens during these challenging times.” It is a hollow promise.

With cuts on this scale, most services will be reduced, charges will be raised, and many valuable services will simply be scrapped.

Care workers, home helps, street cleaners, social workers and housing officers are going to lose their jobs. Super-rich bankers have their jobs saved by the taxpayer, and still find time to reward themselves with billions in bonuses. This is what Cameron and Clegg mean by ‘fairness’.