Protests over huge cuts to Birmingham's libraries

Hundreds of people gathered in Birmingham city centre yesterday (6 May) to protest cuts proposed by the local authority.

Birmingham City Council declared itself effectively bankrupt in September and announced £300 million in cuts and a 21 per cent rise in council tax over two years.

The cuts include slashing funding for 25 out of the city's 35 community libraries.

This has prompted Birmingham residents to take to the streets to protest these slashes. Protestors gathered at Centenary Square to protest the funding cuts of local libraries. 

In 2009, spending on libraries in the UK was at £1 billion, but by 2019 this had declined by a quarter. The same decade saw one fifth of all libraries in the nation close down. 

Birmingham is the fourth most deprived area in the UK outside of London, and just under 40 per cent of households were living in relative poverty in 2022, according to Unison.

A government bail out loan of £1.25 billion has been agreed to help the council deal with its financial issues but it will need to be repaid through the sale of assets.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said Birmingham City Council had massively mismanaged its finances and that the government had "repeatedly expressed concern" over the council's governance arrangements.

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