Commissioners give council one month to secure £300m of savings

Birmingham City Council has been given one month to find £300m worth of savings over two years.

In an update from commissioners led by Max Caller, savings of £149.8m have already been identified but the financial position of the council remains “extremely serious and challenging”.

After effectively declaring itself bankrupt following a £760m equal pay liability and £80m IT overspend the work to secure much-needed savings by January 7 “will need to be undertaken at pace and with a step change in the level of organisational focus and grip” but is achievable say commissioners.

A programme to regear the council’s investment property portfolio has also been agreed to propose sales of property and assets. The committee has delegated powers to declare land and property surplus to requirements.

The council holds the largest land estate of any UK local authority, extending to 26,000 acres. The portfolio, excluding residential homes, infrastructure and schools has an asset value of more than £2.4bn.

Income-generating assets attract on average £34m of revenue per year from more than 6,500 property assets and over 300 of these have historic interest.

The update comes after an independent review by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny found a “deep-seated blame culture” and “low levels of trust” at the council.

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