Birmingham budget cuts: Council leader says 'really tough decisions must be made' to balance books

  • Councillor John Cotton, Leader of Birmingham City Council, tells ITV News Central he's "had to make some really tough decisions to get the budget to balance".

Councillors in Birmingham are set to approve the largest budget cut in local authority history - including a 21% increase in council tax over two years, in return for fewer services.

In an interview with ITV News Central's main presenter, Sameena Ali-Khan, the leader of Birmingham City Council said the cuts are something he "never envisaged or wanted to bring to the council".

The plan to be voted on tonight will see £150million cut this year and the year after - made up of £51m from children services and £23m from adult social care.

Road maintenance will be cut by £12million and fortnightly bin collections from 2025 will save £4.5million.

All that while council tax is hiked by 10% this year and 10% the year after.

The proposals to be voted on tonight will see £150million cut this year and the year after. Credit: ITV News Central

Councillor John Cotton, leader of Birmingham City Council told ITV News Central: "I've been really clear that there's issues we need to take responsibility for here in Birmingham. The challenges around equal pay, the Oracle system. I've been upfront about that from the moment I became leader of the city council.

"However, these issues haven't happened in a vacuum. We are now seeing councils up and down the country facing the consequences of over a decades' worth of austerity and reduced funding to local government. In Birmingham that means we've lost the equivalent of £1billion.

"This is a budget I never wanted or envisaged to bring to the council. These are not the things I came into politics to do. I believe in public service, I believe in tackling inequality, I believe in championing opportunities for the people of Birmingham."

Here's a reminder of some of the proposals which are being voted on by 101 elected council members:

  • A 9.99% increase to council tax for the next two years, meaning that by 2026 council tax would increase by 21%.

  • Fortnightly, rather than weekly, bin collections starting next year.

  • Reduced spending on highways maintenance - this means less money spent on roads, pavements and cycle paths.

  • Less money for culture. This means grants to organisations including the Birmingham REP Theatre, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and IKON Gallery will be cut 50% this year and 100% next year.

The following cuts are proposed:

  • Adult social care (£23.708m)

  • Children Young People & Families (£51.518m)

  • City Housing (£6.236m)

  • City Operations (£39.268m)

  • Council Management (11.872m)

  • Place, Prosperity & Sustainability (£8.365m)

  • Strategy, Equalities & Partnerships (£2.447m)

  • Cost Cutting (£1m)

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