What cost to keep Birmingham running?

February 2008 saw Birmingham trumpeting it's Birmingham council tax rise is lowest in UK with council tax bills rising just 1.9 per cent, a 38p a week increase for an average household and the third year running the Conservative-Liberal coalition had been able to keep the rise below the rate of inflation.

With the city's ambitions continuing to soar with the Big City Plan and aims to continue the regeneration of the past decade how are the aims of new improved transport, development and city expansion plans to be met financially. 2008 saw the City Council raise the idea of recreating a municipal bank, BOB or the Bank of Birmingham which would help raise revenue but there are stormy seas ahead not least with the global financial credit crunch.

One of the waves in the path of the City is what the Daily Mail has titled, Households 'pay up to £140 a year to fill £35bn black hole in town hall pensions'. The Daily Mail has revealed that council's are pouring in millions of pounds a year into their pension funds in a bit to close the gap they have in their pensions.

The investigation by the Sunday Telegraph revealed that Lancashire county council had the biggest deficit with £1.4 billion, followed by Birmingham city council’s £1 billion in the red.

With the issue of filling this deficit and the need of the council to develop much trumpeted regeneration schemes to be funded by the council such as the new Library of Birmingham and an 50m Olympic Pool something might have to give. Part of the funding of these schemes would come from land sales which in the current economic climate aren't going to generate nearly the funding the council intended.
The council can't afford to take it's foot off the pedal in it's drive to regenerate Birmingham and some difficult and innovative solutions are called for - perhaps a a tiny bit more on the 2009-2010 Council Tax to go towards the public schemes is the only solution.


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