Council stresses boost for carers’ wages and no job losses in school crossings as budget published
Birmingham city council has published the latest version of its 2016+ business plan and budget. The document follows a short consultation period and will be debated by the cabinet next Tuesday and full council on 1st March. School crossing patrol jobs and wages paid to carers are being promoted by the council.
The Council has to find another £90M of cuts for 2016/2017 and £160M more by 2020.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced the final local government finance settlement in the House of Commons earlier this week. As well as confirming most of the provisional figures, he underlined the move to full business rates retention by the end of the current Parliament. He also announced a review of the needs assessment formula alongside the transition from central government grants to 100% local rates retention.
The Council states it is guaranteeing there will be no school crossing patrol job losses next year after launching the School Crossing Safety Trust.
Council leader, Cllr John Clancy, says he is continuing talks with businesses and other potential partners to fund the service in future years. Cuts to the service were among budget proposals published in December but public and local media reaction against the loss of iconic “lollipop ladies” have made council bosses think again.
The council leader said:
…we’ve made some recalculations after a very late settlement from Government and we’ve decided that there will be no redundancies this year in this service.
But we can’t keep going through this every year so we’re going to continue to develop the Trust model. We need to reduce the costs to the Council and to that end I’ve already had encouraging talks with potential partners and will continue to work on this important area.
Thousands of Birmingham carers are set for a wage boost, says the council. The Birmingham Care Wage will see private sector care workers on council contracts paid £7.50 an hour regardless of age instead of the Government’s new minimum wage at £7.20 an hour for those aged 25 and over. The level is, however, still short of the Birmingham Living Wage by 75 pence.
Leader of the council, Cllr John Clancy said:
This has been a very tough budget to set but even at a time when we’re having to make £90 million in cuts over the next financial year we think it’s right to prioritise wages for those people who care for the people we love the most.
The Birmingham Care Wage is higher than the Government’s new minimum wage and is worth around £620-a-year based on a 40-hour week. This shows that we value the vital contribution of people working in care homes across the city.
In the foreword to the Business Plan and Budget, Cllr Clancy and Chief Executive Mark Rogers insist:
The council is determined to meet this improvement agenda at a time of unprecedented budget cuts.
The council’s organisation will become much more strategic, and much smaller. This will affect services; and what residents and businesses need to do themselves in future.
As this plan makes clear, this is a council on a massive journey. We are responding to the improvement challenges to education, children’s social care and to the council. You can see real progress with this work, such as in the recent LGA peer review of education. Of course, we are the first to say there is still more to be done alongside consolidation of our new approaches.
We are certain that the city of Birmingham and its council will have a great future if we work together in partnership. And we are both determined to see through the vision and plans outlined in this document to bring that about.
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