Lord Mayor, following the dire result of the General election for the Conservative Party, isn’t it time that the government listens to the electorate and accepts that our citizens have had their fill of austerity?
Overstretched public sector employees feel increasingly taken for granted as they do far more with far less.
Our public services are delivered by teams and workers in crucial roles across central and local government, health and social care, emergency services, criminal justice and education and have equally earned their right to a pay rise that keeps up with the cost of living.
And on a day where the government are pushing their dubious pro-worker credentials, they also tell teachers that the 1% pay cap will remain firmly in place – another real terms pay cut for the eighth consecutive year. An insult to those whose salaries have fallen 15% behind inflation since 2010.
Quite simply Lord Mayor, the Conservative government has wedded itself to a programme of spending cuts and is oblivious to the damage being done to cities like Birmingham, to the services we deliver and to those citizens who depend on those services.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has said in public that the government recognises that its poor performance in the election was partly due to the public being weary of public spending cuts but still austerity continues..
During the decade between 2010/11 and 2019/20, total public sector spending will have fallen by 13%, or almost a sixth, in real terms . And these cuts to local authority budgets, our budgets, are having a profound effect on the services people receive.
As you know Lord Mayor, here in Birmingham, our budget has lost over £600m since 2010 – a figure so immense it is difficult to comprehend.
And make no mistake, we are hurting – our communities are hurting, despite our very best efforts to shelter our poorest people and places from the worst effects. Our poorest communities and our most vulnerable residents – hardest hit and least able to cope without the services we can no longer provide.
Across the UK, youth services and Connexions services have been slashed, with councils closing youth clubs up and down the country. Here in Birmingham we have done our best to protect these services, but make no mistake, our staff are having to do far more with far less.
And our young people Lord Mayor – facing incredibly tough challenges, a generation taken for granted and abandoned by this government.
It is our young people who find themselves on the wrong side of a profound unfairness which has left them worse of than their parents, with worse job security and poorer housing prospects. The 20th century promise that each generation would be better of than the preceding one has been broken and the dissatisfaction of our younger citizens clearly seen with record numbers of young people turning out to vote in the general election. No more will they be taken for granted, no longer will their voices be unheard.
And today, the Prime Minister is relaunching herself, appealing to the Labour party for ideas to improve the country and pledging to tackle inequality and injustice… yes really.
I believe that Jeremy has sent her something to help her out.
Lord Mayor. it would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious!
Surely the British public left her under no illusion in terms of what they wanted and clearly the electorate in Birmingham spoke loudly and clearly at the ballot boxes.
You see, politics is about choices, and there is always a choice and always an alternative.
The choice for the government is clear – a fairer and more just society will only be achieved when it is accepted that austerity has failed the many.
Birmingham needs a fair funding settlement that allows local government services to be adequately resourced, that allows all our residents, and particularly our poorest and most vulnerable, access to the vital services they need, and that allows our workers to be fairly rewarded for the contribution they all make.
If you believe in equality, fairness and justice then vote for an end to austerity and fair funding for Birmingham.