Second wave, or spike, notwithstanding the 2019 novel coronavirus is the gift which will keep on taking, more so in England courtesy of the many dubious policy decisions – diktat – taken by the UK Government, generally unencumbered by meaningful discussion or oversight. And now the pressure, from the top, is for “business as usual.” Large cities and metropolitan bodies are in the unenviable position of having to budget around mandatory provision under epidemic conditions but also to mitigate shortcomings in national provisions – test, trace and isolate for example – all on top of the defunding of the past ten years.
This report is by David Hughes, UNISON Birmingham Branch Officer, based on the talk he gave at Birmingham Trades Council on 6 August.
“Emergency budget for Birmingham as Covid-19 ‘catastrophe’ raises prospect of service cuts” was the headline on a Birmingham Mail article at the end of June 2020. The article said the Council was facing a £212 million shortfall and predicted drastic service cuts that could impact on any or all of the council’s services – from bin collections to schools, pothole repairs to libraries, youth centres to day centres for the elderly.
The city’s finance chief Cllr Tristan Chatfield warned that the ‘already struggling’ city would have to review all of its spending decisions for the rest of the year ahead and into next year. He reported an emergency budget was due to be considered at the Council Cabinet on 21 July 2020.
The report that was presented…
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