Social Services in Birmingham has been a problem for a long time - I can't hide that it has consistently underperformed, even under a Labour administration.
The good news today is that there is an additional £20 million coming into the service this year.
This in line with the Formula Spending Share assessed by the government, who believe that social services in Birmingham need an extra £20 million for next year. (Check the facts on the FSS spreadsheet and the Birmingham budget). The FSS is the way that the government calculates the share that needs to go to each authority and isn't an instruction on how much each council should spend on any given service area.
So all the council have done is passed on the extra £20 million in central government grant straight to where it needs to go. They've done a similar trick with the increase in education funding delivered by the government, with an extra £39 million heading towards schools. Overall, Birmingham will benefit from an extra £73.5 million in the coming year, up 6.5% on the previous year - well ahead of inflation (although it is often not appreciated that inflation rates can genuinely vary from department to department because they may have to buy services or products from a much smaller marketplace). That should help to avoid any nasty shocks in the council tax department to upset the electoral applecart.
That doesn't stop council leader Mike Whitby claiming that this is all down to savings. Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?
That's about as convincing as cabinet member Sue Anderson's comments last year about 'increasing choice' for users by scrapping home care services.