Councillor Cotton said that after every summit he’d been at he always felt very enthusiastic and stimulated. He wanted to express his thanks to Jackie and her team for making it happen.
He then went on to explain that we know the scale and challenge across Birmingham. We know that a third of our children grow up in poverty. The level of deprivation has remained the same for decades. We never seem to be able to address it adequately and the current public spending cuts are certainly not helping. Up to forty eight percent of the Birmingham City Council current budget is set to go. As the Leader of the Council, Cllr Bore said recently, this is the end of local Government as we know it.
Cllr Cotton then alluded to the leviathan of Welfare reform that is trundling towards us. It will impact most on those who are already deprived. The poor will continue to suffer. The cuts will not just affect services they will also threaten existing social capital too.
However, we should not be overawed by these challenges. We are more than capable of facing up to them. The Green paper shows no shortage of vision and ideas it indicates a real passion for change. We are not going to sit back and do nothing. The Green Paper is a call to arms for the city.
Through the creation of the Green Paper the Bishop has managed to pull together a coalition for change: composed of businesses, third sector organisations, universities, religious, community and faith groups and individuals. The challenge now is how we keep the partnerships made here, through this endeavor, together? Hope can we can take the change forward under Bishops Leadership?
There are lots of ideas and solutions across city. A new approach to Neighbourhoods is already being rolled out, here we are endeavoring to provide the right area approach with Local services responding to local needs. The Youth Unemployment Commission is already working on developing a Birmingham Jobs Fund approach. The Welfare Reform action committee is now in place and should be able to help create a shield to protect some of the people at risk. But he did fear that that the shield may well be dented in the effort.
So we can see that several of the proposals in the Green Paper are already beginning to emerge.
The new administration is keen to develop not just a Birmingham City Council strategy to deal with the needs of city but one that includes and embraces all our partners all working together towards a common goal.
To do this they are creating a Social Cohesion Challenge Unit to take this agenda forward. This unit will be able to challenge social cohesion not just across the Council but hopefully across partnerships too. It will champion good practice and build and sustain strong partnerships. The Council needs its partners to work with us, we can’t do it alone.
So, we are beginning to put things in place to enable us to set off on this journey. The Green Paper is our route map. We know the journey will not be easy, but we also know that we have the ability to make Birmingham a better place for every citizen. So lets get on with it!