Thanks to people sharing their views and experiences with us, we were able to share these in a response to Birmingham City Council’s 2020 budget consultation.
As a result, the Council has recognised, in its financial plan 2020-2024 presented to the full council, the need to be more inclusive from an equalities point of view. The Council noted that whilst respondents were reasonably evenly distributed across age groups between 25-84 years, it appears that the White ethnicity group was significantly overrepresented (by c.24%) and all other ethnic groups were underrepresented in the respondent population.
Birmingham residents should see improvement in how they access services, as the Council reconsiders how it implements its plans to move activity online. We raised concerns that plans to move Council activities online would exclude residents who do not have access to or are less digitally literate. The Council committed to considering how best to mitigate these risks.
In our response we also highlighted the importance of the Council developing a clear communication and engagement strategy that clarifies how, why and who they are engaging. Thus ensuring that they are hearing from all sections of society in Birmingham. We also mentioned the following:
- The failure to provide adequate information to support the cuts being made and what they mean for members of the public.
- The fact that impact assessment lacked information about how the various impacts identified will be addressed.
- The challenges that people with sight loss face when they access enablement services. We shared feedback that we believed would inform some of the plans in place for the service.
- We welcomed the Council’s plan to extend the ways it communicates and engages with its citizens through digital methods. However, we asked that the council continues to offer varied ways for engaging ensuring that different communication needs are being met.
- We asked the council to continue engaging with Healthwatch Birmingham in its work on improving SEND services in Birmingham.