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Birmingham City Council to slash £250m over next four years

Full scale of cuts emerges as IT spending, elderly care, council property and refuse collections among a list of services not escaping the budget reductions

Job losses and major cuts have been announced by Birmingham City Council

Birmingham householders face a four per cent council tax hike while seeing £90 million cuts and increased charges for car parking, care and other services.

The average household will pay an extra £46 per year despite the Labour-run council outlining a package of £250 million cuts over the next four years.

The budget includes a £60 million saving on adult social care through increased pooling of services and budgets with the NHS and GPs.

First year savings of £90 million in 2016/17 will lead to the loss of 1,200 council jobs - see below for the cuts at a glance.

The remaining workforce also faces major changes to terms and conditions, with working hours, holiday and sick pay set to be renegotiated to generate further savings.

The authority will slash its spending on agency staff, casual labour and consultants.

The only area of spending to be protected was the child protection service, which has seen increases in spending in the last two years and remains under a government improvement plan.

With just over a week in the job, the new council leader John Clancy has had little opportunity to make his mark on a budget which has been months in the planning.

But he stressed that, while making the cuts demanded by the Government, the authority would be looking to work with partner agencies and the private sector to increase investment, jobs and economic growth – and pledged to look at measures to build more homes.

"We have to start doing things differently with other people, other agencies, most specifically with the NHS, and health sector," he said.

"The scale of the cuts is significant. We have to completely remodel and reimagine the way the city council does things.

"This is the first budget under a Tory majority government. We have to live with these facts and figures for the next few years."

His note of optimism is that there would be continued work to attract investment and generate jobs and economic growth so fewer citizens are reliant on public services and more revenue can be raised through business rates as direct government funding falls away.

"We have some difficult decisions, but we also have to offer hope. There are ways the city can work together to lift economic growth and counter these difficult cuts," he added.

Social care will see the most savings, a total of £92 million over four years. Much of it will be achieved by reducing dependence on acute and residential care and encourage more independent living.

Residents who have benefited from virtual health visits through the free telecare system, itself introduced to save money five years ago, will now have to pay.

While more children with special needs will be asked to swap home-to-school minibuses and taxis for public transport, bikes or family lifts to save about £2.5 million.

And £3 million will be saved from more efficient refuse collections but those using the green waste service will see their annual charge rise by £5 in 2017.

In 2019, the council is also set to finish paying for the Tyseley Incinerator and will also look at further privatisation of refuse collection to make savings totalling £17 million a year.

Income could also be raised by extending city centre parking restrictions and charges into Digbeth and increasing or introducing charges at major parks, including Sutton Park, Lickey Hills, Perry Park and Cannon Hill Park.

Opposition Conservative leader Robert Alden accused the Labour leadership of slashing frontline services while failing to modernise services quickly enough.

He said: "Finally, after years of saying we were wrong to highlight there were efficiencies that could be introduced by cutting agency staff, consultants and so on, the council has finally agreed with us.

"Sadly, having taken so long means we have lost out on around £50 million of extra money had we introduced the efficiencies three years ago."

Opposition Tories and Lib Dems also pointed out that the lollipop ladies and men, saved from the axe following a headline grabbing campaign in March, were now for the chop again – unless schools pick up the costs.

Lib Dem deputy leader Jon Hunt said: "The U-turn on school crossing patrol budgets suggests an appalling piece of cynicism when they were 'saved' earlier this year just before the election."

There was also criticism from the opposition over some small scale cuts, such as to superloos and investigation of dog cruelty cases, which they described as "petty".

The savings at a glance

- £20 million (rising to £60 million by 2020): Redesign of adult and elderly care through closer working with the NHS and GPs to reduce duplication and encourage independent living

- £17 million by 2020: Complete overhaul of waste service, paying off Tyseley Incinerator 'mortgage', new operator contract and possible outsourcing of refuse collection

- £15 million (from 2017): Changes to staff contracts including working hours, holidays and sick pay

- £10 million (rising to £16 million): Staffing efficiencies such as reducing use of agency staff, consultants and more agile working

- £10 million a year by 2020: Disposal or shared use of council buildings

- £5 million from 2018: Promoting alternatives to the car and cutting tax bill for poor air quality

- £3 million: Introducing efficiencies to refuse collection including using chips in bins to cut missed collections and using data to run more efficient collection routes, plus increasing 'garden tax' green waste charge by £5 from 2017

- £2.5 million: Reducing spending on taxis and minibuses for children with special needs, who will be encouraged to use alternatives and promote independence

- £2.5 million: Cutting spending on IT

- £1.5 million: Saving by revising street cleaning rounds, swapping routine clean-ups for targeted rounds;

- £1.4 million: Handing over Bartley Green, Great Barr, Colmers and Hamstead leisure centres to schools or community and closures of Moseley, Tiverton and Newtown pools

- £650,000: Setting up community energy company with established provider, offering savings to citizens and income to council

- £500,000 (rising to £881,000): Removing funding for school crossing patrols. School could pay or look at other measures such as 20mph zones, and walking buses

- £463,000 from 2017: Expansion of city centre street parking controls to Digbeth

- £422,000: Cutting hours at call centre and transferring out of hours emergency calls to contractors

- £400,000: Through a reduction in council's energy bill

- £379,000: Reducing number of staff monitoring CCTV cameras

- £276,000 from 2017: Stopping providing universal “superloos”

- £58,000: Forward magazine to become online only

- £50,000: Through increased charges or sale of local car parks

- £24,000: Stopping investigating dog cruelty cases, passing them on to RSPCA or other charities to pick up

- £20,000: Increasing or extending parking charges at main parks including Sutton Park, Cannon Hill, Lickey Hills, Perry Park and Edgbaston Reservoir

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