Five-year intervention launched at Birmingham City Council to fix serious problems.

  • Five-year intervention launched at Birmingham City Council to fix serious problems, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove confirms
  • Commissioners appointed to help return council to sustainable financial footing along with new political advisors
  • Decision taken after consideration of stakeholder views

Commissioners have been appointed at Birmingham City Council to tackle its serious financial and governance problems after a five-year intervention was confirmed by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove this week.

The team of six commissioners will be led by Max Caller CBE, an experienced local government professional and former commissioner, and will be able to provide advice and challenge the council whilst making decisions directly, if necessary. They will have powers relating to governance, finance and recruitment and bring expertise in local government improvement, finance, HR, equal pay, housing, ICT and commercial projects.

The commissioners will be joined by Lord John Hutton, a former Defence Secretary and Business Secretary, and former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs as political advisers to the council. The advisers will not have the legal power of commissioners but will support the political leadership of the council as they take the difficult decisions that will be required.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove:

Residents have been let down by Birmingham City Council’s failure to get a grip of the significant issues it faces, from its equal pay liability to the implementation of its IT system.

We are always committed to protecting the interests of taxpayers and we will take whatever action necessary to ensure this happens in Birmingham.

That’s why today I have taken the decision to intervene and appoint a team of commissioners to help return the council to a sustainable footing moving forward.

A package of intervention proposals were outlined in the Oral Statement made to Parliament by the Levelling Up Secretary last month (September 19), which stated the Government was ‘minded to’ intervene to protect residents and taxpayers in the city. The plans were subject to a representation period of five working days with views from stakeholders considered before the final decision was made today.

It comes after Birmingham City Council issued a ‘section 114 notice’ on September 5 – an admission its backdated equal pay liability, estimated by the council as being up to £760 million, along with an in-year budget deficit that includes the costs of implementing an IT system are larger than the council’s available resources

The local authority subsequently issued a ‘section 5 notice’ and a further ‘section 114 notice’ on September 21 because it failed to secure a decision relating to its equal pay liability.

A local inquiry will be launched in due course. It is anticipated it could look at the fundamental questions’ about how the issues facing Birmingham have developed and would examine the council’s ongoing management of issues identified in Lord Bob Kerslake’s review of the authority in 2014, and the non-statutory intervention afterwards.

The independent review, commissioned after the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation into a number of Birmingham schools, found successive administrations had failed to tackle deep-rooted problems – and highlighted a culture of sweeping problems under the carpet, rather than tackling them head-on.

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