Birmingham has been hit by a £12.5 million funding cut as the Government continues to make savings in an effort to reduce the budget deficit.
Education funding in the city was cut by £7.6 million, in an announcement by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
The Working Neighbourhoods Fund, designed to cut unemployment in the city was reduced by £4 million.
And support for people with serious mental illness was cut by £500,000. Government officials insisted this would involve cutting the cost of administration, and would not reduce the level of services available.
The announcement was condemned by Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr), who said: “This is exactly what we feared would happen under a Tory government and will hurt some of the most vulnerable people in our city.”
But the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was defended by Lib Dem MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley). He said: “Labour took no action to fix the country’s finances and that is why we have to make cuts now.
“They should basically shut up about this. They were leading the country to bankruptcy.”
The cuts are part of an attempt to save £1.166 billion in local councils across the country, as part of a £6.2 billion reduction in total government spending this year.
But they are likely to be dwarfed by massive cuts still to come, after George Osborne, the Chancellor, this week launched a review designed to find savings of £60 billion.
Birmingham is not the only council to be affected. Funding for Dudley Council has been cut by £1.96 million and funding for Sandwell was cut by £4 million.
Funding for Walsall was cut by £3 million and funding for Solihull was cut by £1.6 million.
Schools and sure start centres are protected from the cuts, but a range of other services funded by education budgets could be affected.
They include “Fair Play”, a scheme to build playgrounds in deprived areas, and “Challenge and Support”, which provides help for young people “at risk” of truanting or taking part in crime.
Money for the Working Neighbourhood Fund, which is designed to create jobs in deprived areas, is also being cut.
In Birmingham this is administered by a body called BeBirmingham. which was widely criticised for spending just a quarter of its £115 million budget in 18 months - with only £2.5 million of that going directly on projects to reduce unemployment.
BeBirmingham chairman Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of the city council, said the decision was “disappointing but containable”.
Mr Pickles said: “The nation’s deficit is running at £156 billion. Reducing that deficit, putting the finances back on a stable footing and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain.
“Tough fiscal times will be challenging for all, but the reductions have been made to reflect the Government’s policy of decentralisation and a scaling back of the quango state.”