Birmingham City Partnership Board issues Cost of Living asks to National Government

Published: Wednesday, 5th October 2022

A coalition of leaders from across Birmingham has come together to urge the Prime Minister to work with the city and back their proposals to ease the effects of the cost-of-living crisis.

This follows on from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward announcing his intention to declare a cost-of-living emergency on 5 September.

Despite the support already provided by national government in response to the cost-of-living crisis, many families and businesses will still struggle to make ends meet this winter. In response, members of the Birmingham City Partnership Board have joined together to write to national government, outlining the unique challenges facing the city and setting out their collective asks on behalf of the city.

The Board’s letter sets out a number of asks to national government to support citizens, communities and businesses across Birmingham, including:

  • Improve access to financial information and support, for example in relation to winter fuel payments
  • Temporarily extend VAT relief for hospitality and non-essential retailers given that many are still struggling with debts accrued during the pandemic
  • Provide Ofgem with more power to strengthen regulation of the energy market for businesses
  • Immediately review and reform the Shortage Occupation List to reduce wage pressures and fill vacancies
  • Provide targeted financial support for charities and voluntary organisations that are on the frontline of supporting people through the crisis
  • Continue with meaningful reform of the business rates system including reducing the level of the multiplier, removing plant and machinery from the ratings system and simplifying the appeals process

The letter, published today, has been signed by a range of leaders from across different sectors including health, business and economic development, education, and local and regional government. It asks the Prime Minister to work together with Birmingham and its key stakeholders to provide desperately needed support to citizens and businesses across the region.

Cllr Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council and Chair of Birmingham City Partnership Board said: ‘Birmingham is a diverse and dynamic city but one which is uniquely vulnerable to the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis. This joint letter to national government is a strong signal to our residents that we do not intend to leave them behind. This follows on from Birmingham City Council’s announcement of a £5 million fund to help our residents during this crisis. As a city, we are joining forces to help residents with the significant inflation in the costs of food and fuel, and we hope that this letter encourages the Prime Minister to join our effort and ensure that support reaches those that need it most this winter.’

Henriette Breukelaar, Chief Executive of the Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GSBLEP) said: “Over the last twelve months, Birmingham has shown the world that it is a great place to live, work and play. It is a global city with big plans for investment in infrastructure and inclusive growth. But businesses in the region will really struggle to survive the cost-of-living crisis, especially after only just surviving the effects of Brexit and the Covid pandemic. They urgently need more targeted support, as set out in our letter to national government.”

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Partnership (BSol ICP) said: “The health and wellbeing effects of the cost-of-living crisis on those who are already struggling is expected to be serious. We anticipate a rise in referrals to mental health services this winter, including many who are accessing support services for the first time, driven by increased levels of poverty and concern about the rising costs of basic essentials. We also anticipate a rise in rates of Covid-19 and flu transmission as people live in homes that they cannot afford to heat, and there is a deep concern around increasingly limited access to healthy food choices.”

Janice Nichols, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Birmingham said: “Over the last few months, demand for our services have totally outstripped our capacity to respond, and we are deeply concerned by the number of people who need help with the food and bills. We are increasingly worried about people turning to unsafe improvised heating methods to warm their homes, which people may be forced into if they cannot afford inflated energy rates.”

Also sent with the letter was background on the West Midlands Trailblazer Devolution Deal.

Note to editors:

The City Partnership Board is a forum that brings together stakeholders from a range of sectors to discuss the key opportunities and challenges facing Birmingham, and consider how the city responds to them. Involving representatives from the NHS, business, community safety, local and regional government, education and statutory partnerships, it seeks to support and influence the priorities, actions, and activity of strategic partnerships and sector bodies across the city to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and a ‘levelling up’ of the city. 

The Board provides an opportunity to strengthen the voice of the city by bringing together a range of people who can help champion the City as it seeks to overcome long-standing inequalities, and provides a forum for networking across sectors, helping to improve awareness and understanding of shared priorities, and build relationships and collaboration across organisations operating in the city.

rating button