Birmingham city council is facing a financial crisis and speculation is growing about which council assets could be at risk. The council sold the NEC Group in 2015 for £307m to fund its equal pay claim bill. With the bill on a constant rise, there is now a need for a review of all assets, leading to a potential “assets disposal programme”.
Some of the assets that could be at risk include:
- Birmingham Airport Stake: The council owns 18.68% of the total shareholding in Birmingham Airport. The airport has been heavily affected by Covid-19 and continues to make a net loss.
- Library of Birmingham: The city centre library, which opened in 2013 at a cost of £189m, is home to significant collections, including the largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world.
- Alexander Stadium: The loss of the recently refurbished Alexander Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, would be a significant blow to the council.
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: There are concerns that the council may consider selling the city centre museum and art gallery, which houses the largest public pre-Raphaelite collection in the world.
- Land and Housing: Birmingham city council owns a vast amount of land across the city and has the largest council housing stock in the country with approximately 59,000 social housing properties.
There is concern that council houses could be sold and outsourced to housing associations. Additionally, the council has been struggling to keep up with the costs and demands of its housing stock, with thousands of homes having serious health and safety issues.
It is still uncertain which assets will be part of the potential assets disposal programme. However, the mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, believes that utilizing the council’s rich balance sheet is necessary to address their cashflow problems.