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Sir, sir, it’s not fair! Birmingham’s funding crisis

Sir, sir, it’s not fair! Birmingham’s funding crisis

🕔30.Dec 2012

I came across recently (don’t ask!) a publication entitled The New F-word Report, which mildly aroused my curiosity for the three seconds it took to realise that the F-word in question was Fibre, and the report wholly devoted to getting at least 80% of us to ingest more of the stuff. Unsurprisingly, the new, or at least most topical, F-words in the local government world are not Fibre Fascism, but Fairness and Funding – with most councils wanting more of the former, and almost all more of the latter.

Birmingham was making most of the Fairness and Funding headlines in the run-up to Christmas. On the 19th, local government finance settlement day, Sir Albert Bore and the leaders of the six other core cities wrote jointly to Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, demanding an urgent meeting to address the “looming financial crisis” faced particularly by the nation’s largest urban authorities.

Then, partly through this letter, the national media belatedly discovered our very own ‘Jaws of Doom’ graph – Birmingham’s version of Barnet Council’s now famous and similarly apocalyptic ‘Graph of Doom’, produced by the London borough to shock residents, the rest of us, and particularly Ministers into realising that by 2020 councils would be facing a £16.5 billion shortfall, with no money left for anything apart from children’s services and adult care .

Birmingham’s ‘Jaws of Doom’ is aptly named, the graph resembling the gaping mouth of a crocodile, attacking from stage left with its jaws open at an alarming 45-degree angle. Like a croc, it is best viewed in its natural habitat, which in this instance is page 8 of the Council’s 2013/14 Business Plan and Budget Consultation document – already discussed at several public meetings and on which the views of all of us are sought by 6th January .

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