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Exploring the Impact of Local Government budget cuts on vulnerable residents

by on 10 February, 2015

Considerable research has been conducted on the impact of welfare reform on vulnerable groups, but to date far less focus has been paid on the impact of local government budget cuts.

After facing several years of budget reductions from central government and with austerity measurements increasing in the near future, the Strategic Research Team set about exploring what impact cuts to Birmingham City Council’s budget have made to date.

The research focused on some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, namely families living in some of the most deprived areas and adults with specialist support needs – mental health, learning and physical disabilities, and older adults.  As such, the research focused on some of those who are most in need of council services, and was not intended to be representative of the whole population.  Over 120 residents were engaged through a series of 16 focus groups.  The discussions covered the impact of services changes over the last few years, as well as the services residents value most and what impact may result from changes in these.

The results of the research were presented to the Council’s Executive Management Team in January 2015 to inform final decisions on budget reductions for 2015/16.  The results were presented alongside the outcomes of the Council’s 2015/6 budget consultation, both of which have been influential in informing the shape of Birmingham’s future services.  The draft Council Business Plan 2015+ and consultation documents can be accessed HERE.

In the main the research demonstrated most residents spoken to were not suffering as a result of the Council’s cuts to date; the critical services people rely on are still present.  However in many cases these services had been reduced and some closed, and they were harder to access; this had decreased quality of life for some, and increased stress and frustration.

The full report is available HERE.

The summary report is available HERE.

For more information contact:

Rosie Smithson, Senior Research Officer, 0121 303 2057, rosie.smithson@birmingham.gov.uk

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