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Plenty of money-raising wheezes in council budget plans small print

Plenty of money-raising wheezes in council budget plans small print

🕔10.Dec 2015

Reaction to Birmingham city council’s proposed £90 million budget cut for 2016-17 has naturally focused on headline issues around adult social services and the impact the savings may have on the lives of vulnerable people.

But tucked away in the budget consultation document are several potentially controversial money-raising wheezes, and other proposals to cut funding, writes Paul Dale.

Bins

The council is proposing a change in local planning policy to require that when a new housing estate is being built the developer, rather than the local authority, has to provide communal facilities for the storage of waste and recycling material. It’s envisaged this will raise £180,000 a year.

Planning fees

As the economy recovers the council anticipates an increase in planning applications. The proposal is for “at least a 20 per cent increase” in the fees applicants for planning permission must pay. This is expected to raise £500,000 next year, rising to £1 million by 2018-19.

Parking

The council is set to extract more money from motorists. The cost of using pay and display car parks will rise, although the document doesn’t say by how much. Payment schemes will be introduced at currently free car parks. Some under-used car parks will be sold off. Together, these proposals will raise £50,000 a year.

Introducing on-street parking charges in Digbeth will raise £463,000 a year. Extension of the current car parking scheme at Sutton Park and introducing charges at Cannon Hill Park, Lickey Hills Park, Rectory Park, Victoria Common, Perry Park and Edgbaston Reservoir will raise £20,000 a year.

Business Support

The council says it doesn’t have a legal duty to offer advice to businesses, but has traditionally done so free of charge. The proposal is to offer paid-for advice in future. This, it is claimed, will raise £100,000 a year.

Trading Standards

The creation of a joint West Midlands trading standards service covering the seven metropolitan councils will produce a £50,000 saving in management costs.

Marketing Birmingham

The council’s subsidy for Marketing Birmingham has been falling steadily in recent years. The plan is to cut funding by a further £250,000 next year and £500,000 from 2018-19. Marketing Birmingham has been told to make up the difference by increasing contributions “from other organisations”.

Forward

The council newspaper Forward will be online in future and no longer available in printed form. This will save £58,000 a year. The council will stop all colour printing, saving £250,000 a year.

Communications

The Local Government Association has been asked to provide independent advice on how the council can restructure its communications team with a specific focus on “creating a modern, efficient and integrated” service. This will save £150,000 a year by 2017-18. The corporate marketing budget will be reduced by £100,000 as a result of the reorganisation.

Payments

The council currently pays suppliers’ bills after 30 days. It’s proposed to make payments earlier, in return for receiving a discount from the supplier. This is estimated to raise £300,000 a year.

Offices

With the workforce having plummeted from 20,000 a few years ago to less than 12,000 today, the council doesn’t require so much office space. Selling spare buildings will raise £2.4 million.

Dogs

Because the council has no legal duty to investigate allegations of cruelty to dogs, it will cease to do so, thereby saving £24,000 a year. Ruff justice.

 

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