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.
Child poverty is at an unacceptably high level, with some parts of the city having over 40% of children in households with poverty level of income. We are firmly committed to eradicating child poverty and to ensure 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.
Improving Health and Wellbeing
We need to work with the community and join up services to focus on our citizens’ needs. The health and social care reform agenda, is looking at how the NHS, Council and other partners can best work together to redesign the approach to adult social care. We also need to develop practical and tangible steps that address the huge range of factors which can influence people’s health and wellbeing – not only issues like smoking and obesity, but also mental health, feeling safe, independent and part of their communities.
Additionally how can we better support people with illness and disabilities, and where possible to re-enter the workforce? How can we redirect resources spent on supporting people with ill health – towards enabling recovery?
Integration of Health and Social Care
Developing integrated care is central to meeting the substantial challenges that lie ahead. By 2017 all areas will need to produce a plan for this integration. People do not want health-care or social care; they simply want the best care. Councils, NHS trusts, GPs and clinical commissioning groups are now expected to work closer together to meet increasing demand. It is important that we create a holistic approach that puts people first.
We are interested in exploring examples of how this can be best achieved. We are keen to develop this further by analysing what can be done to create a truly joined up system, e.g. what the role of technology might be. Is there way of giving social workers (along with NHS professionals) patient/ service user information at their fingertips – where all the information was shared?
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 that will help reduce tensions within and between communities, and creates a cohesive and welcoming city.
We need the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together to ensure that all of our efforts help to reduce inequality and foster 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.
The University of Birmingham has established Institute for Research into Super diversity (IRiS), the UK’s first facility looking at the implications, challenges and opportunities of super diversity.
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? Are interested in understanding how we can do more to support new arrivals in the city.
Comprehensive Housing Offer for the city
We want to provide fresh thinking across the whole range of housing activity, from housing management and advice to private rental to homelessness and the provision of new housing. We will seek to work with the government on the delivery of new private homes and unlocking brownfield sites across the West Midlands. But we also need to improve our offer to our own tenants and to provide more new council homes for rent.
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 work with partners such as Registered Social Landlords plus through our own Municipal Housing Trust.
We are keen to work collaboratively – with less money and more to do to we must work creatively to deliver homes and support services. We also need flexible evidence based policies that balance the delivery of affordable housing against other community needs and development costs. This involves understanding the needs of local residents, landlords, community groups, and private companies.
Helping older people to live independent lives
We need to ensure Birmingham and its region becomes a city where we can all age well.
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 and therefore want to research innovative ways and best practice in this area.
Learning how to use modern 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. , 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.
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 have already worked with the Police and Crime Commissioner to develop a Birmingham Police and Crime Plan that includes ensuring visible presence of legitimate authority figures.
We are also 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.
Improving the local environment
Parks, recreation grounds and other public open spaces are a valuable community resource, providing environmental, social and economic benefits to the residents of Birmingham. Over four years we will provide new modern leisure centres for the 21st century and empower citizens to help manage our parks and green spaces, ensuring that Birmingham residents can enjoy quality sport, leisure and recreation.
We are interested in finding ways to involve communities in all aspects of park provision, including design and management to create a greater sense of local ownership and pride in the external environment.
We are looking to answer questions such as: How can the council, communities and businesses work best together to improve the local environment? And what are the best ways of raising awareness and in persuading people to help make the city cleaner?
Towards a single place budget for Birmingham – what we can do and how government needs to help
We know that the future sustainability of our public services, particularly in social care and health, depends on closer integration. In 2020, business rates will be devolved to local government and will replace the current formula grant funding system. This will give cities greater control over, their tax base. However, we also have a vision of a “whole place settlement” for Birmingham (shared by the other Core Cities). This would enable us to look for synergies across the whole of local public services and begin to design services focused on the “whole person”.