Independent financial review ordered after City Council’s £49m overspend

THE independent body monitoring Birmingham City Council has criticised the “flawed planning and insufficient delivery of the Council’s revenue” after it highlighted a £49m overspend in the current financial year.
It believes the Council “faces a mammoth task to prepare a balanced budget for 2017/18”.
The Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel has today published a letter it has sent to Sajid Javid, the Bromsgrove MP who is Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, which reports on the progress that Birmingham City Council has made in implementing the recommendations of the Kerslake Report in the twenty-one months since the report’s publication.
In the letter, the panel’s chairman, John Crabtree, said: “Birmingham,
in common with all-purpose authorities across England, faces severe financial pressure, particularly on its adult social care budget as a result of demographic changes and growth in demand. The Council is actively engaged in the early stages of working with its health partners to develop a more integrated approach to commissioning and delivering health and social care services to residents.”
However he added that the Council’s “late recognition” of the challenges it faces has exacerbated the problem.
The panel and the Council have agreed to commission an independent review of the 2017/18 budget, which will focus on the quality and robustness of the Council’s delivery plans.
The Panel’s letter is published alongside the Council’s own self-assessment of its progress, Strengthening the Foundations.
Council leader Cllr John Clancy, welcomed the “panel’s acknowledgment, just two years into a five-year improvement programme, that Birmingham City Council has already made considerable progress”.
He added: “The panel’s acceptance that the council is actively addressing concerns raised by the Kerslake Review and is strengthening how it manages its corporate performance by putting in place improved collaborative working between elected members and officers is also welcomed.
“The panel is correct to recognise the extent of the extremely challenging circumstances facing the council as it focuses on developing a robust medium-term financial strategy – a challenge made all the more difficult by year-on-year cuts to Government grant allocations.”