Cuts, cuts, cuts. The word has dominated the local media in Walsall for the last year or so. Walsall Council are under pressure to make £85 million in savings over the next 4 years. In the next year alone, this target will begin to be tackled with £29 million of cuts in basic council services along with a 1.99% increase in council tax for all residents. Council tax support for 20,000 of the borough’s most needy residents will be reduced by 25%. Children’s centres will close as £4.4 million is wiped from the children’s services budget. Up to 200 council jobs will go, as well as an unspecified number of senior managerial positions.
The list goes on and the full manifesto can be read here.
The potential for further cuts to be made to voluntary sector groups and projects, including those run by churches and Christian organisations is also almost inevitable.
Such statistics are depressing and bleak. But as Christians we must remember that our God is Lord of all. He promises that all the riches of His glorious grace are at our disposal. It is our prayer for Walsall that the Body of Christ here will have “the eyes of their heart…enlightened in order that (they) may know the hope to which he has called (them), the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18).
The reality is that the wealth of God’s very character – His love, joy, peace, compassion, generosity, hospitality, forgiveness – are living within His Church in this area and He longs to see us, His ambassadors, sharing that wealth in the community. We must love people. We must practise hospitality. We must give generously. We must forgive constantly. We must be His hands and feet in this borough.
He has made known “the riches of his glory…to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory” (Romans 9:3). And for that reason, we can pray for Walsall with genuine hope that the God of heaven works with a different budget, in a different economy and with a different mandate and His heart is to see our communities in this borough transformed.
Richard Jolly & Linsey Pearson
On behalf of Love Walsall