Birmingham City Council's latest budget consultation gets underway next month when detailed proposals for 2016 onwards are published. And, even before the formal consultation begins, residents from across the city are already helping to shape the future of council services.
Over 350 people attended a series of Community Workshop events in November to discuss how, as budgets continue to shrink, the city council can work with communities, partners and businesses to plan and shape services. (details below)
Now the conversation is set to continue as the budget consultation gets underway on 9 December.
- Cabinet members will attend two public meetings
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Venue: The Lighthouse Centre, St Barnabas Church, High St, Erdington, B23 6SY
Wednesday 16 December 2015
Venue: Council House
- There will also be two opportunities to put your questions to the Cabinet online as we repeat last winter’s Budget Q&A webcast – full details of these event to follow.
- Online consultation: From 9 December you can have your say in an online survey at www.birminghambeheard.org.uk
Mark Rogers, Birmingham City Council’s Chief Executive, is urging as many residents as possible to have their say.
He said: "It's very clear from the workshops that people really care about council services in Birmingham and want to help shape the future of those services. We recognise that passion and want the conversation to continue as we look at the big budget decisions for 2016 and beyond.
“Instead of just looking at what services we currently offer, and trying to save money where we can, we’ve been getting a better understanding of our residents, their needs and how they use our services, so that we can plan for the future. We know that what the people of Birmingham need from us has changed and now it’s time for us to change too.
“We’ve also been listening to feedback and looked at where our customers think we’re inefficient and we’re going to improve that too. We’ll still ensure that we’re making a positive difference in the lives of local people but we’ll do this in a more efficient and affordable way and support residents to help themselves too.”
The budget proposals relate to the next five years, as the authority has its eyes firmly fixed on the future and is planning ahead to what the council of 2020 needs to look like. With this in mind it has developed the Future Council Programme.
Each workshop opened with discussions on a vision for the city for 2020 and beyond and who needs to do what to make this vision happen with fewer resources.
The conversation was then split into four main themes and we've given a flavour of the feedback below:
Theme one: Prevent family breakdown
- The cause of much of the social stress that leads to family breakdown is the lack of social housing and jobs, overcrowding and families’ lack of money. Having more social workers does not necessarily solve these. Benefit reductions are also increasing the likelihood of family breakdown.
- We need less reactive care and a better idea of what drives breakdowns. Poor education and mental health issues are huge factors.
- We need as much early intervention and prevention as possible.
- We need more joining up of health, policing and social service.
- Involve schools and the voluntary sector.
Theme two: Maximise independence of older and vulnerable adults
- Although the need for more housing is important, community support and other support from family, friends and other agencies is essential. Charitable organisations are already doing this.
- GPs can play a big part in spotting issues and they need to know where to refer people.
- We need advice and information hubs and much earlier intervention. Libraries could be used for this.
- Advice is needed for the homeless, those in debt (which is a difficult cycle to get out of) as well as older people and those with long term limiting illnesses.
Theme three: Sustainable Neighbourhoods
A lot of people are already cleaning up their own streets and we need to support these groups.
The council needs to do more on enforcement particularly with regard to fly-tipping, littering and rubbish outside houses and business premises. Peer pressure from community groups can also raise the level of cleanliness.
There should be an anonymous reporting process – whistleblowing – to encourage reports on fly-tipping.
Support community activity to clean up their area by offering resources such as tools.
Theme four: Economic Growth and Jobs
- There's a need for more vocational training and also the need for young people to have life skills training. Schools, colleges and families all have a role to play here.
- Support needs to be given to smaller businesses to provide apprenticeship schemes.
- The Council needs to work in partnership with businesses to bring jobs in.
- Support needs to be given to community organisations in applying for funds to keep their projects going.