New Labour administration puts social justice at heart of vision for Birmingham

Maybe I was one of the few who wasn’t at the launch of Labour leader Albert Bore’s first policy statement for Birmingham on the 12th June, but just in case others missed it too, I’ll cover it here.

In what the Chamberlain Files described as “one of the most detailed statements of intent of any incoming city council administration”, the new Labour leader pledged to make jobs, enterprise and social justice the central priorities for the council.

The 11-page policy statement commits the council to tackling inequality and deprivation; building an inclusive economy; and involving ever greater numbers of citizens in decision-making regarding the future of their neighbourhoods and public services.

For the first time, a Cabinet member with responsibility for social cohesion and equalities has been appointed, with the power not just to scrutinise what the council does but also to change how the council works and is structured so that these aims can be met.

The council is backing a living wage campaign and is beginning by increasing the wages of those of its own employees  currently earning only the minimum wage (£6.08) to a living wage benchmark of £7.20 an hour. This will cost the council about £1.33m a year but much of this cost will be spending recycled back into the local economy. This is a first and a major step forward for some of Birmingham’s lowest paid public sector workers.

The living wage will also be promoted to Birmingham businesses and will become a requirement of doing business with the council.

The plan also contains a renewed commitment to local services and devolution, new pledges on adult social care and youth services, on using the council’s purchasing as a driver for fairness and economic growth, and for Birmingham becoming “the capital for enterprise”.

Click here for a transcript of the leader’s speech.

Click here for the policy document.

This is a major policy statement and deserves close reading.

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