Birmingham is to have more rats, because the council can’t afford to deal with vermin any more.

That’s no exaggeration. It’s one of a number of cost-cutting measures set out in Birmingham City Council’s budget plans.

Other local authorities across the country have also been forced to cut services to the bone.

The nation’s politicians are focusing on Brexit, and you can understand why.

But there are other issues that urgently need addressing and haven’t had the attention they deserve in recent months.

Here are some examples:

Local councils in crisis

Councils are struggling to make more savings as they attempt to cope with rising demand for services following years of funding cuts.

To give just one example, Birmingham council is to introduce a £25 fee to deal with rats in people’s homes and gardens.

Birmingham Council House

The service is currently free, and there were 9,000 requests for rat treatment last year.

But the council says it expects this to fall to 5,000 once the fee goes ahead. It says it expects thousands of households will simply put up with living with rats.

The Universal Credit fiasco

There are 44,950 people on Universal Credit in the Birmingham and Solihull area, the latest Department for Work and Pensions figures show.

But a range of experts, including the independent National Audit Office, have warned that the system doesn’t work.

It may have been introduced with good intentions, but in practice it’s making some people desperately poor.

What’s more, a total of 19,880 "sanctions" have been imposed in the West Midlands since the benefit was introduced.

This is when benefits are cut. And it can drive people into severe debt - or leave them homeless.

Birmingham MP Jess Phillips said: “I have seen many cases where people couldn’t get through to the helpline, people being misinformed about what was expected, or those with genuine problems attending the job centre because of childcare, hospital appointments and the like.

“Sanctions occur very abruptly in these cases, leaving families, many of whom are in work, with sudden financial difficulties. It’s no surprise that debt is rising and rent arrears are climbing.

"The system has to have checks and balances but at the moment the sanctions regime is not fit for purpose.”

Children forced to live in bed and breakfast accommodation

Last year 8,020 households were recognised as being “homeless and in priority need” by local councils in the West Midlands region, including 3,386 in Birmingham alone.

And 2,058 Birmingham households are in temporary accommodation. That includes 574 in bed and breakfast accommodation.

What’s more, Government figures show 168 Birmingham households with children have been stuck in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation for six weeks or more, because the council has nowhere else to put them.

It’s no way to live.

Thousands of children are being fed by foodbanks

A Tesco Foodbank Centre
A Tesco Foodbank Centre

Figures from charity the Trussell Trust show that three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis went to 13,447 households in the West Midlands last December. That includes 5,498 households with children.

It expects the numbers to be higher this year.

And a third of children are in poverty

There are now 1.3 million people living in poverty in the West Midlands, new figures reveal.

And that includes 400,000 children.

It means that in an average classroom of 30 children, ten are likely to be in poverty.

A child living in poverty.
A child living in poverty.

The figures were published by think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

And they show that 26% of children in working households are in poverty in the West Midlands, compared to 77% of children in households where nobody works.

Police don’t have enough money to catch criminals

The number of violent crimes recorded by West Midlands police shot up by a fifth in the past 12 months , recent police figures show.

West Midlands Police recorded 61,124 violent crimes in a year. That’s 167 violent crimes a day.

It’s an increase from the figure of 50,699 violent crimes a year previously.

Criminals know the police don’t have the resources to pursue them, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police has warned.

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Dave Thompson said: 'I think criminals are well aware now how stretched we are.'

In comments to the Guardian newspaper, Chief Constable Dave Thompson warned: “There is no question there will be more obvious rationing of services. The public can already see it is going on.

“We are already not pursuing crimes where we could find a suspect. We are doing things now that surprise me.

“We are struggling to deliver a service to the public. I think criminals are well aware now how stretched we are.”