Birmingham Policy Community

A Fair City

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    Reducing Child Poverty

    We want to create a prosperous city where prosperity is fairly shared. Child poverty affects many families who are in work and struggling on low wages, as well as those who cannot find work. Research has shown that the main factor causing child poverty is lack of sufficient income from parental employment, which restricts the amount of earnings a household has. This is not just about worklessness, but also about working insufficient hours and/or receiving low pay. Therefore these are the areas we need to work on.

     Child poverty is at an unacceptably high level, with some parts of the city having over 40% of children in households with a poverty level of income. We are firmly committed to eradicating child poverty and we will make sure that where a child starts in life no longer determines where they end up.

    We need to tackle child poverty at its roots; we are interested in exploring ways to improve family living standards and begin to address some of the underlying causes of poverty in the UK, by extending free school meals, taking action on fuel poverty, increasing the supply of affordable housing, and tackling low pay. It is vital that the city’s schools, social care, health services and employers all work together to break the poverty that blights the life of a third of our children.

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    Improving Health and Wellbeing

    We need to work with the community and join up services to focus on our citizens’ needs. A Health and Wellbeing Board has been established, which is a new partnership aiming to deliver improvements with help from across the public sector including health, councils and Healthwatch. The Board will work across organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Birmingham. We need to come up with practical and tangible steps that address the huge range of factors which can influence people’s health and wellbeing – not only health issues like smoking and obesity, but also feeling safe, independent and part of their communities.

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    Welcoming diversity and promoting social cohesion

    Birmingham is a vibrant and diverse place – a city of a million people with roots across the globe. Our diversity is a tremendous asset, but this needs to be harnessed in a way, which will help reduce tensions within and between communities and create a cohesive and welcoming city. We need the public, private and voluntary sectors to all work together to ensure that all of our work helps to reduce inequality and fosters unity. To achieve social cohesion we need to identify where exclusion and marginalisation currently exists, and then look into ways to break down these barriers and create sustainable opportunities.

    We are working with the University of Birmingham to help establish the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) this will be the UK’s first facility looking at the implications, challenges and opportunities of superdiversity.

    We are seeking to answer questions such as; how can we engage new and existing communities and how can we support their integration into the city? Can schools do more to teach young people about the importance of social cohesion? How can we ensure that institutions better reflect Birmingham’s diversity? We are currently looking to develop places of welcome and are interested in understanding how we can do more to support new arrivals in the city.

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    Providing affordable and suitable housing

    Birmingham City Council is dedicated to providing high quality housing for people who are unable to access or afford market housing, as part of its commitment to ensure that a choice of housing is available to all in mixed income and mixed tenure communities. There is a need for a significant number of new homes in the city to provide for both current demand and future growth, ensure those seeking work can find accommodation and provide affordable housing for all. We will make use of brown-field sites wherever possible, but we also need to make sensible use of land surrounding the city. Our ambition is to tackle the biggest housing crisis in a generation, building more homes, helping people on to the housing ladder, providing quality social housing and affordable housing and working to raise standards for tenants in the private rented sector. To do this we will need to continue to work with partners such as the Homes and Communities Agency and Registered Social Landlords.

    We are keen to develop flexible evidence based policies that balances the delivery of affordable housing against other community needs and development costs. This will involve understanding the needs of local residents, landlords, community groups, and private companies.

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    Helping older people to live independent lives

     As Birmingham’s population ages – an increasing number of elderly people will need care. Older people tend to be resistant to the idea of going into a care home and would prefer to remain independent in their own house. We are determined to enable more people to do just that. We want to research innovative ways and best practice that will help older people live independently. For example, we are interested in seeing how technology could be used to support elderly people. Teaching technology can help curb loneliness, can provide support and save money in the long run. We are also looking to research the effectiveness and practicality of developing ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’. These are places that are designed to be lived-in by all people regardless of their age or disability. Linked to PDT 29 (Care in the community), it is important to identify what role the community and third sector can play in providing support for older people who may be struggling to cope in their own homes but remain determined to keep living independently.

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    Reducing anti-social behaviour and crime

    We are determined to ensure that Birmingham remains one of the safest cities in the UK and welcome innovative ideas to allow us to put victims first and tackle anti-social behaviour and crime. We are already working with the Police and Crime Commissioner to develop a Birmingham Police and Crime Plan that includes putting “bobbies back on the beat”. As well as this we are interested in finding ways to encourage more individual, business and community responsibility and looking at how we can bring complementary services together like drugs misuse and youth offending.

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