Birmingham, the UK’s second most populous city, has declared bankruptcy. The city council announced the news Tuesday. Officials expect the city’s budget deficit to be about 87 million pounds (approximately $109 million) in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
The issue of bankruptcy arose after the total amount of claims against the city for wage inequality reached almost a billion dollars. The city treasury does not have funds for payments of this scale.
As the BBC notes, the number of claims against the city about wage inequality became widespread more than 10 years ago. Their authors are government officials: among them are employees of city and district administrations, teachers, librarians and social service workers. A significant portion of the plaintiffs are women who have proven in court that they receive fewer bonuses and other required payments than men in the same positions – especially in traditionally “male” professions such as garbage collectors or street cleaners.
Birmingham City Council deputy leader Sharon Thompson admitted the city is unable to pay all the claims, which she called a “financial looting”. She also said that rising costs of social assistance for adults and a sharp drop in business income as a result of inflation led to bankruptcy.
As a result of bankruptcy, the city can suspend most of its spending, leaving only expenses for minimal infrastructure maintenance.
Birmingham is a city in central England with a population of over a million people. Only London has more inhabitants – almost nine million – in the UK.