Birmingham City Council Enlists Commissioners Amid Financial Crisis

Birmingham City Council Enlists Commissioners Amid Financial Crisis

In a bid to address its dire financial situation, Birmingham City Council has turned to a team of commissioners.

The government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has appointed eight commissioners, led by local government expert Max Caller.

These commissioners come at a significant cost, with the potential to claim a combined fee of £8,900 per day.

Max Caller to Lead Oversight

Max Caller, with extensive experience in local government leadership and financial inquiries, will lead the commission.

He has previously been involved in investigations into the finances of local authorities, including the 2018 inquiry into Northamptonshire County Council’s bankruptcy.

The commissioners will report directly to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

Composition of the Commission

Alongside Max Caller, the commission includes five other commissioners and two political advisers.

These advisers are former Defence Secretary John Hutton, who is now a Labour peer in the House of Lords, and John Biggs, the former executive mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Oversight Powers and Collaborative Approach

The commissioners are tasked with providing oversight while allowing the council to continue making most decisions.

However, they have the authority to intervene when necessary. Birmingham City Council’s leader, John Cotton, and Chief Executive Deborah Cadman expressed their commitment to working collaboratively with the commissioners to address the city’s challenges.

Financial Crisis and Section 114 Notice

Birmingham City Council’s financial crisis came to light when it issued a section 114 notice on September 5, effectively declaring bankruptcy.

This move followed the revelation of an estimated £760 million equal pay liability and a budget shortfall of £87 million for the current financial year, projected to increase to £165 million in 2024/25.

Support from Local Conservatives

The appointment of commissioners has received support from Birmingham Local Conservatives.

Councillor Robert Alden, leader of the opposition, emphasized the importance of resolving the financial situation and ensuring fair compensation for staff.

Conclusion

Birmingham City Council’s decision to enlist commissioners highlights the severity of its financial challenges.

The team of commissioners, led by Max Caller, will play a crucial role in guiding the council toward a sustainable financial future.

The council’s commitment to working with the commissioners reflects the urgency of the situation and the need for a collaborative approach to overcome these financial difficulties.