1. ITV Report

Hundreds of protesters expected to rally against council cuts in Birmingham

Photo: PA

Hundreds of people are expected to protest against budget cuts proposed by Birmingham City Council in the city centre today (14 February), as the plans are taken to Cabinet.

The council had originally planned on slashing £10 million from its 2017/2018 budget, but after a consultation and protests, this figure was reduced down to £5 million.

The protesters, made up of community groups and charities such as Midland Mencap, Crisis and Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC), as well as service users and some local MPs will be expressing concern at the continued threat of proposed cuts to supported housing and related services.

They are worried it will have a devastating effect on services to the city's most vulnerable people.

Protesters rallying against proposed council cuts in January 2017. Credit: ITV News Central

Save Our Support Lobby who are organising the protest for the second time are asking the authority to use reserves to meet the funding gap in the year ahead, so there can be more time to adjust to the central government cuts that are hitting services.

A spokesperson for the group said:

We welcome the reduction in the proposed cut to services. But councillors should be under no illusions that they have solved the problem or averted a crisis. A £5m cut in spending on these services means a reduction of 450 bed spaces that are needed to keep highly vulnerable people safe.

In addition, those with learning disabilities, those with mental health problems, people fleeing domestic violence, and people battling addictions - will have the vital support that they require to live independently removed or reduced.

We welcome the fact that the Cabinet has committed to working with the providers to find alternative funding. But the reality is, we do not have time to find those alternatives if cuts are to be implemented from April.

– Save Our Support Lobby
Birmingham City Council says it's been a difficult budget-making process. Credit: PA

Councillor John Clancy, the leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

This has been the most difficult budget-making process Birmingham City Council has faced. We have cut spending by almost £600 million since 2010 and expect to make a further £170 million savings by 2021. There are no easy decisions to be made after seven years of Government-imposed austerity.

We have engaged and consulted with more citizens than ever before because we were determined to make sure as many people as possible had a chance to comment on our spending proposals, at public meetings, through social media, and by writing to us.

I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say. Birmingham citizens have spoken. We've listened, and will act.

– Councillor John Clancy, Birmingham City Council Leader

The budget will go to the full council on 28th February before it gets the final go-ahead.