Express & Star

Protest over feared youth service cuts

Protesters are set to hold a rally outside Birmingham City Council’s HQ over expected plans to slash youth services in the city.

Birmingham City Council House in Victoria Square

The Labour-run authority is currently in a dire financial situation thanks to a number of factors including an equal pay fiasco, rising demand for services, the disastrous implementation of a new IT and finance system and the impact of years of austerity.

Birmingham City Council (BCC) now faces an enormous budget gap of at least £300 million – and services across the city are expected to be slashed as a result.

Unite the union has now confirmed a protest will be held on the morning of Tuesday, February 13, and will involve attendees marching with drums from the Library of Birmingham to a rally outside the Council House.

Young people who use Birmingham youth services will also hand in letters to the council, describing how budget cuts could impact them.

Unite says any cuts to the services, which help teens avoid cycles of crime, exploitation and mental ill health, would cost more money in the long run.

The union’s regional officer Lee Wiggetts-Clinton said: “It makes absolutely no sense to further destroy this vital service, which generates an independent income as well as saving public money in the long run by helping at risk teens avoid crime and exploitation.

“Birmingham council’s youth workers, as well as its other staff, did not create this financial crisis and Unite will be fighting to make sure they do not pay the price for it.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said the  crisis-hit authority is going through a “challenging period” due to its financial situation.

“We understand it is an unsettling time for many of our residents,” they continued.

“As we review the saving proposals for the Children, Young People and Families directorate, it will be inevitable that services will need to be changed as a result, and this process allows us to continue making improvements to provide efficient services.

“We will do all we can to minimise the impact during this difficult time and continue to prioritise the services for the most vulnerable residents in the city.”

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