Council tax to rise almost three per cent in Birmingham

Birmingham families will have an extra 2.99 per cent added to their council tax bills from April after the city council agreed this year’s budget.

In a meeting which was at times explosive – with one councillor defecting from Labour to join the Conservatives – Birmingham’s city councillors voted in favour of the executive’s financial plan.

The plan will see council tax rise by 2.99 per cent – including a 1.99 per cent basic council tax increase and one per cent ringfenced for adult social care.

Band A properties will pay £34.85 more per year, while Band H properties will pay an extra £104.50 on their bills. At the same time, Band D properties will rise from £1,748.19 to £1,800.46.

In a meeting which lasted more than five hours, there were shouts and tears – and at one point Lord Mayor Councillor Muhammad Afzal said opposition councillors were disrespecting his office and called an adjournment.

During the meeting Councillor Zhor Malik, who has represented Balsall Heath West for three years, crossed the floor during an angry exchange. He was not selected by Labour to stand in the forthcoming local elections.

He had jointly signed, with Tory councillor Matt Bennett, a last-minute amendment to the Labour budget – a move that automatically set him at odds with his former allies and meant the Labour whip was removed.

When he took to the podium to outline the amendment, he said he felt his ward had been neglected by the Labour leadership.

He spoke against his former colleagues, accusing them of being ‘unruly’ and made a reference to corruption, before Lord Mayor Councillor Muhammad Afzal cut the mic and ordered him to stop.

The plan put forward by Labour includes a balanced budget for the year with a financial gap of £33 million by 2025/26.

The council leadership said the budget aims to “build a city which is prosperous, inclusive, safe, healthy and green”.

The plan seeks to reduce full-time equivalent staff numbers at the council by 100 as part of making savings of £40.8 million.

Changes to fees and charges will impact on bereavement services costs as well as home care charges.

Moving the motions which set the budget for the year, council leader Councillor Ian Ward said the council’s books are “arguably in the best position they have been for 30 years”.

He said: “We have listened to the people of Birmingham and are investing extra money in the priorities of residents and communities right across this city.

“So following on from our successful £7.2 million investment in cleaner, greener streets that we announced last summer which included the incredibly successful roll-out of mobile household recycling centres, today’s budget outlines plans to invest an extra £1.4 million in cleaning the city’s streets and alleys – with more money invested in flytipping response crews and enforcement.

“People want clean streets and they also want safer streets so we are investing £1 million in a joint initiative with West Midlands Police to tackle knife crime – a growing problem in towns and cities across the country that destroys lives and tragically robs families of sons and daughters.

“We are working hard to make this a city of opportunity for all and we have a duty to ensure that young people growing up in every neighbourhood can reach their full potential.

“So for the first time in over a decade, we are in a position to invest in youth work and early intervention to support children and young people vulnerable to criminal exploitation and involvement in violent crime.”

He added the financial plan includes funding to reduce the cost of public transport for 16 to 18 year-olds – and the proposals would be presented “in due course”.

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News