Words by Ed King
Pype Hayes resident, Daniel Edge, has started an online petition to ‘Stop Birmingham City Council’s Unfair Council Tax Increase’ – amassing hundreds of signatures a day from people across the city.
At the time of writing, only five days after the petition went live on the recognised campaigning website Change.org, 1358 people had put their name down in support – with 228 recorded in a single day.
Birmingham City Council (BCC) has recently come under question after they wrote to the government last year, to get Westminster to allow the beleaguered local authority to increase Council Tax above the legal limit of 4.99% without holding a referendum.
Current laws limit the amount a local council can increase their yearly Council Tax charge to residents without a public vote on the matter.
But following BCC’s financial crisis, after the city issued a Section 114 notice in September 2023 – effectively declaring itself bankrupt – the drastic step has been taken to get government approval to jump those restrictions, meaning Birmingham residents could face an increase of up to 21% on their Council Tax bills over the next two years.
The decision to approach central government to allow such a significant hike in Council Tax, without the legally required public consultation or vote, was approved by BCC in a full Cabinet meeting in December 2023 – with Council Leader John Cotton stating it would only be implemented “if necessary”.
Cllr Cotton added: “It’s clear that we’ll need to seek exceptional financial support from the government in order to bring the council’s budget back into balance.
On 5 September 2023, Birmingham City Council issued a Section 114 notice after facing a budget shortfall of around £84m for their next accounting year.
There were also reported debts over equal pay liabilities amounting to an estimated £760m and costs surrounding the Oracle IT system of up to a further £100m – although these figures have been questioned by some sources in the city.
With a team of commissioners now overseeing Birmingham’s bank balance, local residents are worried they will end up footing the bill for BCC’s mistakes – seeing “unfair” increases in Council Tax and losing services.
Speaking to Erdington Local about his decision to start a petition to ‘Stop Birmingham City Council’s Unfair Council Tax Increase’, Daniel Edge explained: “I was moved to create the petition because of the unfairness and injustice of the proposed council tax hikes.
“Birmingham has 1.1M citizens of various socio-economic groups and a large proportion of those will be significantly impacted by these above inflation increases.
“It is simply not fair that the council tax payers are picking up the pieces of over 10 years of financial mismanagement. I’m happy for a 4.99% increase, the most the council can do without seeking government approval, but not a penny more.”
One signee of the petition comments: “I’m a resident of Birmingham and the councillors should be held to account for their mismanagement of finances over the years as opposed to this ridiculous increase in council tax.”
Another adds: “Daylight robbery! Stealing from the poor full stop for mis-management of public funds.”
Whist a further supporter of the petition ends their comment by saying: ”… I am being penalised for being a good resident and paying my way. I am not prepared to be a cash cow.”
To read more on the petition to ‘Stop Birmingham City Council’s Unfair Council Tax Increase’ visit: www.change.org/p/stop-birmingham-city-council-s-unfair-council-tax-increase