Birmingham Council has announced that there will be no increase in council tax or in rents for council tenants in the coming year, giving a boost to those living on fixed or low incomes, particularly pensioners. In addition, the Lib Dem-Tory council has pledged that no libraries, swimming pools or lesure centres will close and proposed cuts of £38 million in care for the elderly and disabled have been stopped. Proposed cuts in youth services have also been cancelled and cuts in the 'supporting people fund' for those in housing need have been reduced.
Welcoming the news, Cllr Ann Holtom (Tyburn Ward) said: "These are difficult times but Birmingham Council now has the lowest Council Tax rate in the West Midlands and the lowest in the main cities in the UK. This means hard-working local people and hard-pressed families are able to keep more of their own money in their pockets. There still have to be savings in the budget but I am pleased the Council is able to keep open all our principal leisure facilities and is doing its best to see the cuts don't fall on the most vulnerable in the elderly and disabled care sector."
But Cllr Holtom warned all this could change if Labour gets into control of the Council House in May. Cllr Holtom said: "When last in power here, Labour so neglected Birmingham that more than half the city was eventually classed among the most deprived areas in Britain. Now many Labour Councils around Britain are refusing to freeze Council Tax, despite being offered government funding to help them keep these costs down. They prefer to spend public money while we prefer leaving as much of it in residents' pockets as we can. I fear this is what will happen in Birmingham if Labour get in next May."