The new Birmingham Jobs Budget: what it is and what it isn’t


Last Friday (12th April) I met with senior representatives of Birmingham City Council to discuss how the City can take up the challenge issued by the Birmingham Commission on Youth Unemployment in January to create at least 1,000 jobs for young people in Long Term Unemployment.

The Commission called for a Birmingham Jobs Budget to be set up. Not long after its report was published, people were talking about the City Council Birmingham Jobs Fund, financed in part from Community Chest money hitherto allocated to the Council’s District Committees for distribution.

With a name like that, it was perhaps inevitable that a lot of people, myself included, began asking questions about how the “Fund” was going to be allocated and targeted – on funding of opportunities for young people, on employers offering those opportunities  or  on geographical areas of high youth unemployment.

In part the meeting which was held last week was sought by me to get answers to those kinds of questions and – from a local point of view – to make sure that South West Birmingham, which I represent, will not miss out.

The City Council were however at pains to emphasise that this was not simply a “Fund” as such to be targeted on any particular area. It is intended to help foster a better and sustained way in which different agencies are working  together to tackle the scourge of long term unemployment which blights the lives of so many young people in Birmingham, wherever they live.


Below is a passage from the Birmingham Commission on Youth Unemployment report which explains their vision for the Birmingham Jobs Budget:

“The budget will seek to pool and/or align resources from a wide range of agencies and organisations, building on Birmingham’s experience of piloting ‘community budgets’. The resources we will seek to pool or align include £2m from Birmingham City Council, the National Apprenticeship Service apprenticeship grants  (worth £1,500 per young person) funding from JobCentre Plus’s Flexible Support Fund, the £2,200 –per person Match Funding (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council is currently putting together a £75m bid to the Big Lottery Fund for this money.

Other organisations have expressed an interest in pooling or aligning their work and resources with this budget, and it will be an important to ensure that this new fund complements existing provision (such as pre –apprenticeship training and work experience schemers) – so as we launch this report we’re writing to a range of organisations  investing resource into tackling youth unemployment, asking them whether and how they think they could be part of a  Birmingham Jobs Budget  and thereby enable all of us to achieve more than the sum of our parts. “

This was very much what I was told at my meeting on Friday. I have included it because it is important for people to know what the Birmingham Jobs Budget is, and – just as important – what it isn’t.

It’s also important for the Council and partners to make sure more details are worked out and circulated as soon as possible, so that everyone knows what is going on.

In the event of the City or its partners deciding, after all, to use part of its Jobs Budget to target particular geographical areas, it would be crucial that any criteria used would be transparent.

Here are range of questions which I put to the Council in letter from February about some of the choices involved in the event of targeting being considered.


The meeting last Friday also agreed some specific initiatives in the Northfield area to create a better framework in which the ideas of the Commission on Youth Unemployment can be translated into practice and the Birmingham Jobs Budget approach work as effectively as possible.

We agreed to establish a new cross-sector network of employers in the Northfield area to build both skills and aspiration in the area. It is vital to bring together public, private and third sector partners to pool their expertise locally and learn from one another. Too often have local networking projects been confined within sectors rather than between them.

This network together with the City Council, its LEP partners and bodies involved in education and training should also define a deliverable vision for the future economy of the area.

The actions needed to achieve this vision and to build opportunity must be identified to avoid a one-dimensional “pin in maps” approach that can easily lead regeneration up blind alleys.

We also thought a Jobs Fair – probably sometime in the autumn and possibly taking in Selly Oak and Edgbaston constituencies too – could help take all of this forward.

The City Council representatives I met agreed to take the initiative in following up these ideas. They will work with the recently set up Northfield Strategic Partnership, chaired by West Midlands Police.


In the early 2000s, the Northfield area was a pioneer in Birmingham for developing new ideas for local partnership working and community regeneration. This enabled some excellent initiatives to be fostered in response to the Rover crisis of 2005 and its immediate aftermath.

Unfortunately, much of what was being developed in Northfield was snuffed out by the Conservative-led administration which ran the City Council until last year. Its centralised approach to decision making and obsession with the City Centre meant the needs suburbs like Northfield, Weoley, Longbridge and Kings Norton were long forgotten.

Now is the chance to turn that around.

If you have any views you would like to raise with me on youth unemployment, please get in touch.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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