Birmingham Against The Cuts

Have you been affected by the cuts or recession? Recently we’ve been getting increasing requests from journalists who are looking for people to talk to, and we want to hear from you if you’d be happy to talk to the press when they are looking for a real example to illustrate their stories.
  • Lost an essential service in government cuts
  • Lost your job due to public sector cuts.
  • Unemployed, particularly if you’ve been out of work for a long time or if you are coming out of school, college or university and have been unable to find work.
  • Struggling to pay rent, bills or buy food
  • Been sent on forced unpaid workfare placements
  • Affected by benefit reforms, especially people with large families

The above is not a definitive list by any means, but we’ve had requests for these stories in the past few months, and would like to be able…

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For human beings to wish to be treated and respected as such ought not to be such an ask. Indeed it ought not need to be asked at all.

Lifelong Learning Matters

Six care workers were jailed last week and five more were given suspended sentences because they neglected and abused vulnerable patients in their ‘care’. A BBC Panorama investigation had exposed cruelty at the Winterbourne View private hospital near Bristol, which the Castlebeck group ran. A serious case review and a damning 150-page report followed, cataloguing dozens of assaults on patients. Abuse like this is not isolated and too many people with learning disabilities live with fear and humiliation.

Recent events show that we need advocates for the most defenceless people in our society. We should also support people in speaking out for themselves when it’s possible so that they’re able to share their experiences and have some influence over their own lives. Stephen Green’s election as England’s first parish councillor with Downs Syndrome is a significant step. Stephen from Nutthall, Nottinghamshire, is challenging the stereotypes of local politicians being explored in the…

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Revisiting from the realm of the undead, an old and dirty tactic. When an unpopular right-wing government, having made significant losses at local level wants to distance themselves from the cuts and mire their opponents with the fallout, they hand budgetary responsibility to local government.
And true to form, the left turn on each other in a frenzy, while the Tories sit back, open their popcorn, place their bets and laugh at the spectacle.
Brothers and Sister, Comrades, Friends and Colleagues: focus your anger and commitment where it belongs. Albert Bore is not the author of this, Cameron, Clegg, Pickles, Osborne and the rest of the ConDem wrecking crew are.
Protest the Tory Cuts, not our Council.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Birmingham’s Labour Party Group have today announced that there will be extra cuts in next years budget, likely to be around £50m on top of the £70m already known about. This will cost at least a further 1,000 full time jobs at the council at a time when unemployment continues to rise in the region. £600m will need to be cut from the budget by 2017 – nearly 50% of the discretionary spending that Birmingham City Council had before the financial crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio West Midlands this morning, Albert Bore, leader of the Labour Party Group, said this was due to further cuts in grants being made by Eric Pickles, the local government secretary and because previous cuts hadn’t delivered the anticipated savings. He said this signalled “the beginning of the end of local government as we know it”.
You can listen to Albert Bore on iPlayer from…

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A potential voice for a section of society often overlooked, or else, ignored. Best wishes.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

The Care Leaver’s Network have a meeting in Birmingham regarding the potential closure of childrens’ homes in the city. Please note that this meeting is for care leavers only.

Wed 14th November 2012 7pm – 9pm
The Elizabeth Fry Room
The Priory Rooms
Quaker Meeting House
40 Bull Street
B4 6AF

A Childhood in Care?
Be a part of this Ground Breaking Care Leaver Network

  • Open to Care Leavers of all ages, whether you’re 18 to 88
  • Discussions on Birmingham City Council’s proposal to shut children’s homes
  • The CLA argue that decisions on residential or foster care should be based on individual needs and not financial considerations
  • A one size fits all approach to caring for our most vulnerable children does not work
  • If you are a care leaver and have a view then come along to the meeting
  • Find out more about the CLA
  • Meetings are…
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    Ideally everyone should pay into the taxation pot. If one pays tax and council tax it is undermines any argument about opting out, scrounging and the like. Of course society – a real society worthy of that name – offsets those contributions so that the poorest don’t have to starve or risk gaol in order to belong.
    This additional tax on poverty must be addressed at national level, that is the proper job of Parliament.

    Birmingham Against The Cuts

    The last consultation meeting on Birmingham City Council’s plans for its Council Tax benefit scheme took place on Thursday in the city centre.

    As at previous consultation meetings there was enormous anger at the proposal to make people on income support and Job Seekers Allowance pay an average of £5 a week council tax. It was pointed out that with cuts in other benefits such as housing benefit, and general reductions in benefits as part of the Universal Credit, these people were absolutely unable to pay more without facing starvation.

    Many people contended that with the costs of debt collection, and the increase in crime, family breakdown, and homelessness the policy would cost more than the money raised. A recent survey showed that councils expect 50% of people will refuse to pay the new charge. Other councils such as Walsall, Dudley and Solihull have decided to absorb the…

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    Birmingham Against The Cuts

    The Hardest Hit, a campaign group for disabled people and charities are holding an event in Birmingham on 26th October:

    West Midlands Event: Birmingham MP Question Time

    When: Friday 26th October, AM
    Where: Birmingham City Centre

    The Hardest Hit team in the West Midlands are organising a free Question Time themed event for the morning of Friday the 26th of October 2012 in Birmingham City Centre. We are expecting representatives from the three main political parties and Birmingham City Council to attend and answer your questions. The discussion will focus on a range of topics including government cuts and reforms to benefits and local services. This will be the culmination of a number of smaller Hardest Hit activities being organised around the region during the week of action that is starting on 20 October.

    Disabled people, their families and carers from across the West Midlands are invited and put their…

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    Birmingham Against The Cuts

    The campaign with Communities Against the Cuts to get the council to fund the £120,000 that Birmingham CAB needs to keep its offices in Northfield, Tysley and Kingstanding will continue with a petition session by the CAB, Gazette Buildings, 168 Corporation Street, Birmingham, B4 6TF on Tuesday 23rd October from 12noon-2pm.

    Without this funding, the CAB will be forced to close its offices around Birmingham. The loss of these advice centres could not come at a worse time for Birmingham residents, as welfare reforms threaten to overwhelm advice services even before these cuts and the loss of legal aid income restrict their ability to help people further.

    So come and join us on Tuesday, even if just for 20 minutes on your lunch break, and help gather signatures to present to the council to demand they find the money to keep CAB open and stand up to this coalition…

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    Birmingham Against The Cuts

    Today’s unemployment figures show that the government has failed to manufacture falling unemployment figures in Birmingham and the West Midlands, though they have managed it nationally, with the coup d’etat being the reduction in youth unemployment to under 1million. In Birmingham though, youth unemployment claimant count rose to 14,450 – a rate of 23.4%.

    The government uses workfare and other training schemes to reduce the headline unemployment figure (the Labour Force Survey) and increasing numbers of people who are sanctioned are not included in the lower claimant count number. The move to a 4 week minimum, 3 year maximum sanction regime from the 22nd October will further act to reduce the claimant count, by reducing people to destitution.

    With unemployment rising in the West Midlands, can we expect to see an increased push to force people into unpaid workfare schemes to claim unemployment is falling? Will we see…

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    Not soup kitchens for the destitute feckless but a life-line for ordinary hard working men, women and their children – perhaps your neighbours, perhaps… you.

    Birmingham Against The Cuts

    The Trussell Trust, which runs 172 food banks around the UK, has reported a doubling in the number of people seeking its support to feed themselves and their families as benefit cuts, delays and sanctions, the recession, rising food prices and frozen wages hit poor people in the UK. Between April and September this year, nearly 14,000 people in the West Midlands visited a Trussell Trust food bank, and many more will have been to others, like the Gateway Family Services food bank in Edgbaston.
    Such is the increase in demand that Birmingham Central Foodbank have launched a Harvest Campaign to encourage donations.

    This comes alongside news from a survey by the Guardian Teacher Network that large numbers of pupils are coming into school hungry, with nearly a sixth of teachers saying they spend up to £25/month of their own money on basic foodstuffs for the students…

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    The power of education lies in harnessing the latent potential resident in most people to effect strong, lasting, positive change in their lives and conditions. Evident from this article.

    Lifelong Learning Matters

    WEA students Cathy Thomas and Sarah Nichols spoke at the launch of the Independent Inquiry into Family Learning last Friday.  NIACE organised the event on the theme of Forgotten Families: How learning in families contributes to a range of policy agendas.

    Their tutor, Tracey Martin, and WEA Organiser, Trish Hollies, accompanied them as they joined the Princess Royal, members of the House of Lords, family learning practitioners, government department representatives and other adult students. I was also invited to speak about Family learning and its role in widening participation in adultlearning.

    There’s more information about the Inquiry at

    Carol Taylor from NIACE interviewed Sarah, Cathy and Emily Fearn, another successful adult learner from Croydon, as part of the event. Their moving first hand accounts showed the impact of family learning.

    Cathy and Sarah, who are both from Yorkshire, wrote their own pen portraits before the event:

    Cathy in her own words

    I’m a 33-year-old, married mother of…

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