Building on our 2022 successes and helping people through the cost-of-living crisis

In his latest blog the Leader of Birmingham City Council Councillor Ian Ward looks at the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2023.

Well, as life slowly returns to normal after the Christmas break, I'd like to wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Reflecting on the 12 months just gone, there can be little doubt that 2022 was Birmingham's year, as we hosted the best ever Commonwealth Games and our task in 2023 is to build a lasting legacy for people in every neighbourhood and community.

We should all be proud of the way we collectively rose to the challenge of staging such a major global event, welcoming over 5 million visitors to Birmingham, and showing the world's media that ours is a great city with a lot to shout about. I'm confident many of our summer visitors will be back, because they experienced at first-hand that our warm, friendly city region is a world class destination for business and leisure tourism, with award-winning museums and galleries, world class cultural institutions and festivals, major sporting events, family friendly attractions, amazing parks, and scenic waterways.

In so many ways, Birmingham is a city on the up and we continue to attract major investment to create jobs, homes, and opportunities for people right across the city. We will continue to do that, to ensure that the Commonwealth Games was just the start of a Golden Decade of Opportunity for a city that absolutely must be at the heart of any genuine attempt to level up the UK economy.

But of course, Birmingham is also a city that faces challenges and I know that times are tough for far too many people at the start of 2023, as the cost-of-living crisis hits families and households in every community and neighbourhood.

That's why in October we launched HelpInBrum - a citywide campaign to offer support and assistance to people struggling to heat their homes, buy food, clothes, and other essentials. Birmingham has a long and proud history of pulling together to support people and the Council is working with fantastic partners across the city to offer help.

Through HelpinBrum we're offering support and advice to people who are struggling and by working with local communities and a partnership of voluntary and community sector organisations, we now have a network of over 120 Warm Welcome Spaces across the city, helping to ensure that our communities have access to safe, welcoming, warm spaces where the focus is not upon poverty or an inability to afford heat but on hospitality, connection, and support.

Last month, the council announced a new £210,000 grant scheme to help enhance the growing network of Warm Welcomes across the city and you can find your nearest space on our dedicated webpage

We've extended operating hours at two city council Neighbourhood Advice and Information Centres (Erdington Advice Centre and Northfield Customer Service Centre) to help support people through the cost-of-living crisis.

Within weeks, our advisors had unlocked over £250,000 in increased benefits for Birmingham residents during the extended opening hours and I'm sure that many more people will be helped to claim the support they are entitled to in the coming weeks and months.

We're also offering almost £500,000 worth of grants to support foodbanks, food clubs, food pantries, social supermarkets and community cafés that are providing food to Birmingham residents.

I promise you that the council will continue working closely with partners across Birmingham to offer help and support to those in need.

And we will also attract the funding and investment needed to create a better, fairer future for people right across our great city.

Happy New Year.


This blog was posted on 6 January 2023.

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