Birmingham council has announced plans to cut a further 1,000 jobs and warned it could soon be forced to make “difficult decisions” about whether it can continue to provide some frontline services.
In a white paper published on Monday, which will form the basis of the council’s formal consultation on the budget for 2014-15 and beyond, Birmingham revealed that it will have to make savings of £120m next year.
In total, it will have to save more than £460m by 2017-18. This is on top of savings of £375m already delivered since 2010-11.
A third of the council’s workforce has left to date and council leader Sir Albert Bore warned there would have to be further, “substantial” cuts in staff over the next few years.
Birmingham has managed to avoid decommissioning any whole services in 2014-15, but many will be reduced and some facilities will close.
Bore said the council would protect “as many frontline services as we can” in light of the cuts, but warned it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so.
“As funding is reduced year after year it becomes more and more difficult to find savings through efficiencies or ‘back office’ cuts and we are now at the point where difficult decisions about frontline services can no longer be avoided,” he said.
“If central government continues to squeeze local government harder than any other section of the public sector – with cuts now in the region of 40% – and because of our reliance on funding from London, we will have to stop delivering some local services from 2015-16.”
Unite echoed Bore’s warning that cuts of this scale could lead to the decommissioning of whole services – and not just in Birmingham. “We fear that by 2015 there will be little local government left,” the union said in response to the news.
Bore said Birmingham’s leadership was determined to protect “as far as possible” essential services, such as social care.
In more positive news, he announced plans to invest nearly £10m in additional funding for children’s safeguarding next year.
The council will also begin negotiating with local providers with a view to extending the living wage to care workers not directly employed by the council.
A consultation on the budget for 2014-15 will run from 9 December 2013 to 10 January 2014.