My 2013/14 Budget speech at Full Council

I didn’t really plan a speech but contributions from the Tories and Lib Dems got me inspired to stand up at the Budget setting meeting on Monday. Here is what I said;

“in 2013, the horizon is very different for disabled people.

Cllr Kansagra [Leader of the Brent Conservative Party] said in his speech that vulnerable people are protected in changes made by Government….. but that’s as true as a Lib Dem Focus leaflet I received a couple of weeks ago that said that David Clues was my ‘local’ Councillor when he’s living in Brighton.

What about Disability Living Allowance, where by the Government’s own admission, 200,000 will lose out on their disability benefits?

By the Government’s own admission, thousands will lose out on Carer’s Allowance because of the way that benefits interact with eachother.

This Budget supports carers with the introduction of a new Carer’s Hub. Mr Mayor, there are 23,000 Carers in Brent. People providing care to their loved ones in ways that we cannot even imagine. We will create a single access point for carers in Brent.

What about Employment Support Allowance? Disabled people who have worked all their lives and find themselves in adversity will have their benefits slashed if they have not found a job in 12 months

And what about the Bedroom Tax? Couples where one individual has to sleep in a hospital bed and the couple cannot share a room will be penalised for having an “extra” bedroom.

This Budget continues to offer hope and support to the Voluntary Sector – to the Brent CAB, who will often be the first point of call for Brent people affected by these changes.

Mr Mayor, Labour is the Party that offers hope to people in Brent at a time when examples are taken out of context and are out of the norm and are being used to soften the public mood for benefit changes that are damaging the lives of disabled people.

Mr Mayor, given the Lib Dem and Tory record in Government, I dread to think what they would do to services valued by the most vulnerable if god forbid the Lib Dems & Tories had control at this Town Hall again – and it’s with this I end my statement and support this Budget and it’s amendments.”


Brent Council sets legal budget

Last night, Brent Council along with four others (Bromley, Croydon, Newham and Camden) set legal budgets for the next financial year.

When people are inevitably hit hard by swingeing cuts that have to be made, our Labour instincts have shown through our commitment to continue funding for Youth Centres and keeping our 17 Children Centres and the Welsh Harp Education Centre open. These services directly benefit young people and vulnerable people – groups that have been unjustly hit with service reductions during the rolling back of the Welfare State by the Coalition Government.

In addition, Brent Council will continue to fund the Brent Law Centre, Brent Citizens Advice Bureau and the Brent Private Tenants Rights Group. The Lib Dem / Tory Coalition’s policies on social housing and housing benefits are likely to increase the caseload on these organisations and lead to more demand in the services that they provide. With Big Society money invisible to access at the moment when services are needed NOW, it is only right that funding for these organisations that help the most vulnerable; people in poverty and often homeless, or facing the threat of being homeless are protected.

The Brent Liberal Democrats and Brent Conservatives abstained from the amendments to the original budget that led to these services being saved.

More London Boroughs are due to set their Budgets tonight.

News of the Week: Six weblinks from the week just gone, recommended by me

  1. Norman Tebbit of all people warns that people should write off new Labour leader Ed Miliband at their peril, describing him as ‘the man most likely to get Labour’s lost voters back to the polls’
  2. Brent Citizen’s Advice Bureau on how Housing Benefit caps will affect Brent
  3. Lib Dems ConDemned on diversity by Operation Black Vote, as Members vote down motion to improve BME representation
  4. Left Foot Forward on the graph that shames the Lib Dems, using the independent IFS figures that shows that their cuts are regressive in comparison to Labour’s proposals
  5. The work of the new generation begins”: Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour leadership conference
  6. Ken Livingstone wins race to be Labour’s candidate for next London Mayor