Six years and £650 million worth of cuts later, and it seems that finally Birmingham’s MPs are starting to take notice on the misery being inflicted on some of the worst off in our city.
During a debate in parliament earlier this week, Steve McCabe, Jack Dromey, Jess Phillips and Roger Godsiff took it in turns to denounce the massacre of local services that has taken place in Birmingham since 2010.
They were quite correct to point out the “dire consequences” (McCabe) for the city’s homeless population (now four times larger than six years ago). They weren’t wrong about the near extinction of youth services either (Godsiff), or the £113 million further cuts to come next year.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be using their position to call on Birmingham City Council to resist the cuts to local services that the Tory government are demanding.
Despite the years of cuts, the council retains £389m in reserves. These, along with the council’s borrowing powers, could be used to set a legal no-cuts budget that meets the needs of the city.
This would provide an opportunity for Birmingham’s Labour MPs to not just decry the cuts from the green benches of parliament, but to build a campaign of residents and council workers to force the Tories to reinstate the funding stolen from Birmingham over the last six years. Liverpool City Council did just this successfully in the 80s, under the leadership of Militant, The Socialist Party’s predecessor.
In reality though, Birmingham City Council’s Labour group have instead demonstrated that they have been only too willing to carry out hundreds of millions of pounds of brutal cuts without firing a single shot in defence of the city’s poor and vulnerable. Shame on them!
For more info on how a legal no cuts budget could be won by Labour councillors in Birmingham, see this article by Socialist Party executive committee member Clive Heemskerk