High Court finds Birmingham City Council’s homeless housing programme unlawful

Birmingham City Council acted unlawfully by putting homeless citizens in unsuitable and sometimes dangerous housing.

The High Court delivered a judgement on Friday 23rd April, finding that the Birmingham council “had been operating an unlawful system for the performance of its main housing duty under the Housing Act 1996”, as the council had been leaving tenants in unsuitable accommodation while seeking alternative long term or permanent housing.

One claimant, listed in a report from the BBC, is disabled with multiple serious health conditions and requires a power wheelchair. This person had been placed in a two bedroom home since 2018. As the home was deemed a temporary residence no adaptations were made to accommodate the claimants requirements which would have allowed them to live more comfortably with their disability. Three years later this person is still residing in the so called “temporary accommodation”, still without changes made to the property to make it suitable and functional.

In the last few years Birmingham council has sold off a number of valuable public and community assets in order to fund cuts and redundancies, including the sale of thousands of public housing flats and community nurseries which have now been privatised. It was easy to foresee that these cuts and sell offs would lead to a shortage of suitable public housing and community services for those most in need.

Meanwhile, Birmingham council sits on financial reserves of over £400 million which is projected to reach over £450 million by 2023. Why then are the council pushing for ever more cuts to basic services for working people? Why are they selling off public housing to developers when poverty is on a sharp incline and we know that the demand for public housing is going to skyrocket? Why are they unable to fund even the most basic adaptations to public housing so people with disabilities can live comfortably and with dignity?

We will soon realise the full scale of the financial crisis as the country exits lockdown and the furlough scheme will draw to a close. We anticipate rapid increases to unemployment and underemployment and with that rising poverty all with fewer public resources to support the people.

It is not acceptable for the council to claim there is a housing shortage in their defence of the unlawful treatment of people in their housing program. The council has manufactured its own housing shortage while it sits on a pile of almost half a billion in cash. Who is this money for? Where will it be spent? Certainly not on the struggling working people of Birmingham.

The Workers Party branch meanwhile has been campaigning for many months for FREE bus travel for children across the West Midlands, a move with obvious benefits for work, education and public peace that would cost a mere £7 million.

These are the sorts of measures that can improve the lives of Birmingham’s poorest right now, and we call on like minded people in the city to join with us in fighting to make them a reality.

References

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/revealed-birmingham-city-council-selling-15906789

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/one-five-brummies-living-poverty-17989153

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-56886515

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-41124098

Birmingham infant mortality rate almost double the national level

A shocking report says more than 100 babies are dying before their first birthday each year in the city.

A report has found that infant mortality levels in Birmingham are 7 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 3.9 deaths in England overall.

Infant mortality rates are highest in the areas of the city with the worst deprivation levels. Families of Pakistani origin are disproportionately affected, the report suggested the potential risk of marriages between cousins as a potential contributing factor to the increased mortality, however similar high rates of infant mortality were not seen in other areas with large Pakistani communities such as the London boroughs of Waltham Forest and Redbridge.

Britain ranks amongst the worst in Europe for infant mortality. A study by the British Medical Journal found that Britain had 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 and is trending upwards after a steady decline from the year 2000, this trend shows strong correlations with the rates of child poverty across the UK and as Birmingham is home to some of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK, with some areas such as Birmingham Ladywood, having 55% of children living in poverty, it should come as no surprise that Birmingham has the highest infant mortality rate in the country.

Birmingham councillors have voted to create a multi-agency task force to reduce infant mortality in the city by at least 50 per cent by 2025. Its remit involves working with community groups and faith leaders to help minimise the risk factors, however as poverty is a key correlating factor in high infant mortality as shown in a 2019 article by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), it will take more than community groups and faith leaders to reduce infant mortality.

The Workers Party of Britain, Birmingham branch demands a broadening of the discussion to look at social class. The redistribution of wealth and the improvement of the material conditions for Birmingham’s most deprived is an urgent necessity.

Where could the council spend its money?

Hard working families are sinking into poverty, whilst the council wastes millions in vanity projects. Already Birmingham has secured more than £2 million in funding for large plant boxes to shut off some residential streets as part of a “green” solution to congestion, under a scheme known as an LTN (Low Traffic Neighbourhood).

The Workers Party branch meanwhile has been campaigning for many months for FREE bus travel for children across the West Midlands, a move with obvious benefits for work, education and public peace that would cost a mere £7 million.

These are the sorts of measures that can improve the lives of Birmingham’s poorest right now, and we call on like minded people in the city to join with us in fighting to make them a reality.

Find out more about Free bus travel for children in the West Midlands:

https://birminghamworker.org/free-buses-for-children/

Other references

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/10/e029424 Taylor-Robinson D, Lai ETC, Wickham S, et al
Assessing the impact of rising child poverty on the unprecedented rise in infant mortality in England, 2000–2017: time trend analysis: BMJ Open 2019;9:e029424. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029424

https://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/child-poverty-is-on-the-rise-and-concentrated-in-the-places-the-governments-policies-will-hurt/

https://www.lboro.ac.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2020/october/child-poverty-rise-shapest-in-midlands-and-north/

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/health/2021/04/05/fears-unemployment-could-increase-child-poverty—with-the-regions-total-at-almost-90000-pre-pandemic/