A man has set himself alight outside the Selly Oak job centre. The incident reportedly took place after an argument about payments at a centre which is used by University of Birmingham graduates.
The 48 year old man, whose identity has not been disclosed, arrived at the job centre on Thursday with petrol and began making threats. He then tied himself to the railings outside the building in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak before dousing himself in the flammable liquid, ripping off one of his trouser legs and setting himself on fire.
Police arrived and the fire was quickly extinguished, however the man was taken to hospital with burns to his legs. The Jobcentre Plus was evacuated and remained closed for the rest of the day.
It has been reported that the man had been arguing after his payments were delayed due to a change in his circumstances. Although he had originally been classed as vulnerable with outstanding health issues, he had recently been found fit to work.
West Midlands police said the man was undergoing a mental health assessment. A spokeswoman added, ‘Officers were called at around 9.18am to reports that a man had tied himself to railings and was threatening to set himself on fire. The man doused himself in liquid and set himself alight. Officers extinguished the fire and the man was taken to hospital with burns to his legs. The injuries are not life threatening and the man remains in hospital receiving treatment.’
Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe confirmed that the man was not one of his constituents. He said, ‘I don't want to draw any conclusions about this individual case but the bigger thing is that we need to try to understand what is happening with unemployment at the moment.’A protest took place on Saturday outside the Jobcentre Plus to protest against benefit cuts. ‘Birmingham Against the Cuts’ organised the demonstration which gathered around forty people.