Trade union lobby of Birmingham council. Photo: Brum SP
Trade union lobby of Birmingham council. Photo: Brum SP

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

A Guardian article has cast doubt on the reliability of the data used by Birmingham Labour council to justify the huge cuts, 21% council tax increase, and asset sales.

The council is blaming a £760 million equal pay liability for the cuts. This figure has not been audited, and some councillors believe that this liability would be impossible to accrue with the number of staff affected. Even the chief commissioner appointed by Tory Michael Gove to run the council said that “that figure will be replaced by a real (and lower) one” in due course.

The council has also spent in excess of £100 million fixing faults with a new IT system, which workers told the council wouldn’t work before it was even installed. This has caused the council to have no audited accounts for two years, unable to track income and expenditure. The council basically doesn’t know how much money it’s got!

Whistleblowers believe that the equal pay bill issue is being used to divert attention from the failures of council officers. This sounds like a Birmingham version of the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Labour councils can fight

That there is such enthusiasm to make record cuts in services against an unclear financial background says a lot about the priorities of Starmerite Labour councillors. So eager are they to prove how ‘fiscally responsible’ they are, that they don’t even wait for the facts to be clarified.

The cuts budget agreed in March should be scrapped, and replaced by a no-cuts, needs-based budget. There should be a trade union inquiry into how this state of affairs occurred, with all officers found to have lied or been incompetent held to account.

See what we’ve said before: ‘Birmingham council: massive budget cuts proposed’ at