Centre organises anti poverty conference

Birmingham Centre for the Unemployed and Midlands TUC Anti-Poverty Conference

Birmingham Council House 11th March 9.30am to 2.30pm

Those of you following this blog will know that the funding for the Birmingham TUC Centre For The Unemployed and the valuable advice work we do on all fronts from welfare to employment was abruptly cut in January; and with no promise of any continuation thereafter or options in the future.

In response, with our West Mids TUC colleagues, we are organising a conference to raise awareness of our plight, and indeed that of others in the same boat, how it will affect vulnerable people and how we can go forward from here. I call upon trade unionists everywhere to join us and help us through our immediate crisis. So when your union or Branch gets the call – please make every effort to attend the conference and get involved, emotionally and financially.

The event itself will be an historic event – guest keynote speakers include Jack Dromey MP and Heather Wakefield of UNISON. There will be workshops looking at the effect of cuts and the changing regime of benefits; and the geography of poverty. This conference will not just be about raising the profile of our centre, but of the wider issues that all of us face – and how we may tackle them – a must for anyone involved in the Trade Union movement or the voluntary sector.

 25 Years Of Community Tradition And Service Could Be Lost

To give you an insight into where we are at with the centre – The centre management and staff have been working hard to assess what we can do and try and work out how we can go foward from here and survive in the future. The fact is, the Centre, the work the volunteers do, and the jobs of staff are under threat with redundancy notices having already gone out. This is breaking the hearts of the management committee and everyone involved in the Centre as there is a very real threat that after 25 years of a proud tradition serving our community, it will all come to an end. The sheer scale of cuts forced upon Local Govt by the Tory-led Govt and hence the knock on in our sector funding is unprecedented. It is being portrayed by both Govt and media as a ‘no alternative’ scenario. This is not true.

Governmentt has options, as do Local Authorities. On a Governmental level, they could do more to rein in tax collection to erase the deficit – like collecting on the the £120 billion worth of tax avoidance/evasion; or challenge corporations to play fair on tax rather than allowing them their offshore tax-havens; of course there are other routes I could ramble on about that make my blood boil on the priorities of Govt and focusing on the needs of vulnerable people rather than letting bankers get off scott free. And what of Local Authorities? Well, working with the voluntary sector rather than against us might be a start. We provide a valuable service to our communities and many charities will go to the wall between now and the summer as the cuts hit home and this will be a major loss to everyone – including David Cameron’s so called ‘big society’. We want some structure to the debate and constructive dialogue on a way forward to get interim and long term funding sorted – and that is the message to national Govt too.

Please Accept The Invite To Come To Our Conference

Ok, that’s my blog, or rather rant over – those of you who know me will know that it is mostly ranting I do, but hopefully within a constructive environment (that’s my view not necessarily yours). Anyway, I hope to see many of you from the West Midlands trade union movement and voluntary sector accept the invitation you will soon be getting to come to our historic conference.

In fraternity,

Steve Brown



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