Ellie Ames 07 December 2023

Birmingham given a month to make £300m savings plan

Birmingham given a month to make £300m savings plan image
Image: Peter Horrox / Shutterstock.com

Commissioners have given Birmingham City Council until 7 January to set out a ‘credible plan’ for addressing a £300m budget gap over the next two years.

A report by government commissioners said the council’s financial position ‘remains extremely serious and challenging’.

They added that ‘given the lack of any early budget work’, it will not be possible to fully address next year’s financial shortfall.

However, meeting the £300m two-year savings target is ‘achievable’, commissioners said.

Their report said that while Birmingham had already made some progress to identify savings, there remains ‘a huge amount of work to do’, which will require ‘a step change in the level of organisational focus and grip’.

Commissioners were reviewing an update of the council’s financial position, set out by its interim director of finance and section 151 officer, Fiona Greenway.

Ms Greenway said the council’s corporate leadership team (CLT) had so far identified £149.8m in savings towards a £215m target for the 2024-25 financial year.

She said: ‘With a savings programme which has historically underdelivered, this means that the council is building a new savings programme from a standing start.’

Ms Greenway told the cabinet that every budget holder must ‘take ownership and responsibility for delivering their savings, and recognise that failure to deliver their savings will undoubtedly lead to reductions in other services including further redundancies’.

Her report recommends that the cabinet delegates authority to the CLT to finish preparing for next year's savings programme, including by starting an employment consultation and engaging with the public, stakeholders and service users.

The cabinet is also recommended to give leaders the go-ahead to request Exceptional Financial Support from the Government, which will include asking permission to increase the level of council tax above the referendum limit and a formal application for a capitalisation direction.

Birmingham’s cabinet will consider Ms Greenway’s update and the commissioners’ review on 12 December.

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