Brent to be targeted again by Coalition Government

The BBC is reporting that Councils in England face a 10% cut in funding from central government as part of the coalition’s spending plans for 2015/16 – LINK

The article quotes a Local Government Association (LGA) estimate that a 10% cut in spending would mean an average council having to find another £30m of savings on top of existing cuts. As we know, Brent is usually disproportionately impacted from Coalition Government cuts – LINK

10% savings on top of the 30% cuts to Council Budgets will simply mean that in Brent, we will have to simply stop doing some things and make some unpalatable decisions.   Council Leaders including Cllr Muhammed Butt of Brent signed a statement agreeing that the cuts to local councils “simply cannot go on” – LINK

Furthermore, US President Barack Obama has rejected Osbornomics, saying that “we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity” LINK

Globally, the opposition against the Tory and Liberal Democrat approach is growing. But the approach from Nick Clegg and George Osborne and company is not changing.

I hope that the Brent’s three MPs Barry Gardiner, Sarah Teather and Glenda Jackson vote against this unfair budget on Wednesday.

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Sarah Teather makes Brent pay double!

Data compiled by the Guardian has exposed the Tory Liberal cuts to Councils – LINK

It shows that Brent people have been disproportionately affected by the cuts to local Councils.

New data reveals that Brent’s budget has been cut at £120.21 per resident whereas the national average is £60.90 per person. Extraordinarily, North Dorset, a Tory controlled Local Authority has had its Budget cut by £2.70 per person. This is absolutely outrageous.

Why have Sarah Teather and her pals forced Brent to have to cut more than others? If Brent Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit as they have done at Council meetings and the Coalition Government are holier than thou, are they still defending the level of cuts to Brent compared to others and supporting the damage made to Brent while other Councils are being given much more generous settlements?

Is it right that Brent residents have to pay more for paying back the budget deficit? Did they create the crisis? Was it Gordon Brown who created deficits in nearly every major country in the Western world by building and refurbishing schools and hospitals? or was there a global economic crisis?

Sarah Teather must explain why she chose to cut money away from Brent services more than services in other areas. Why does she feel it is right to make cuts to Brent Council of £120 per person and to North Dorset a measly £2.70 per person.

These are questions that all the Brent Tory Liberals are yet to answer.

 

Cllr Hirani Slams Brent Tory Liberal Hypocrisy

I was absolutely dismayed at the level of hypocrisy shown by the Brent Liberal Democrats and Brent Tories at the Full Brent Council meeting this week. I tabled a motion at the meeting reading, “This Council condemns the £104 million cut to Brent’s Budget over the spending review period”, which Brent Liberal Democrat and Brent Tory Councillors failed to support.

While appearing to fight for local services they have adopted a peculiar position of apparently supporting the Coalition’s chosen method of cutting public spending which has led to more cuts to Brent’s Central Government grant than in other Councils.

There are two main arguments floating around as to why we have a large public debt. In short, one that it was a global economic crisis that led to a collapse of the banking system meaning that the Government had to borrow to stimulate the economy, bail out the financial sector and lost out on projected tax revenue income. The second that Labour public spending was out of control and is to blame for the country’s deficit and deficits of USA, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Germany, France and many more, which we have to pay for now.

Regardless of what line of argument you believe, I thought that all Councillors of all parties would be unified in condemning the scale of cuts to Brent compared to other Boroughs.

Even if you believe that the scale of cuts is necessary nationally and that the debt should be tackled within one Parliament (The Coalition Government’s original plan A on the economy), is it fair that Brent Council has to make cuts in the region of 27-28% of our controllable budget whilst other Councils are not being hurt as bad as Brent? Brent is losing out on £73 per resident whereas Guildford faces a cut of £10 a person and Richmond £5.39 a person.

If Brent Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit, do they believe that people in Brent caused the recession more than residents from other areas and therefore should be made to pay and suffer more?

Audit Commission reports back on Brent’s Budget

Brent’s budget is annually assessed by the Government’s Audit Commission. The Audit Commission has now reported back to the Council about their findings from the 2010 / 2011 Audit. The Audit Commission has confirmed that “the Council has proper arrangement to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of its resources.”

It says that “significant changes are required over the next few years and tough decisions will be required to make them…. The Council’s transformation programme is helping it prepare and make the savings required for future financial stability”.

The report reminded me of the context of the cuts that Brent is making and said “Following the announcement of reductions in grant funding by government in May 2010, the Council approved an in-year savings plan of £15 million.

The medium term financial strategy (MTFS) was updated to include £106.7 million savings over the next four years to 2014/15. £41.7 million of savings have been included in the budget setting strategy for 2011/12. The Council is currently reviewing its approach to deliver the residual savings of £65 million between 2012/13 and 2014/15….. These substantial savings will have to be delivered against a background of increasing demand for council services and reduced management capacity…. The Council’s general reserves are low and earmarked reserves are falling while pressure on the Council’s resources in the coming years is significant and unprecedented. The maintenance of strong financial control will be essential if the Council is to achieve its plans. When setting its budget for 2012/13, the Council must continue to have regard to the increasing level of risk in setting its reserves.”

So with the £41 million plus cuts that the Council has already identified, a further £65 million has to be cut from Brent’s budget within this spending review period.

The Audit Commission acknowledges that “the achievement of such a significant savings plan whilst continuing to deliver quality services will remain challenging.”

Areas of improvement identified by the audit are to do with producing quality financial monitoring systems. Although there is acknowledgement that “It has been a particularly difficult year for the Council, implementing new financial systems and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) whilst also dealing with structural change, staff losses, and a highly challenging budget settlement. This has stretched finance resources and impacted on the Council’s ability to produce good quality financial statements and working papers.”

Full Council meeting yesterday

Logo of Brent London Borough Council

Yesterday was the first reading of the Budget in the Brent Town Hall Council chamber.

There is a bit of a gloomy outlook with Brent having to make further cuts to the Budget as part of the wider £104 million that Brent has to make over the comprehensive spending review period.

Tory Liberal Councillors did their best to let the bankers off scot-free and set the blame on the previous Labour Government.

However, I spoke and made a contribution saying that regardless of whether you believe that the international banking crisis or the previous Labour Government and Gordon Brown is to blame for the country’s deficit and deficits of USA, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Germany, France and many more…. why don’t we think about Brent for a second.

Even if you believe that the cuts are necessary and that the debt should be tackled within one Parliament, is it fair that Brent Council has to make cuts in the region of 27-28% of our controllable budget whilst other Councils are getting more money?

How can the Brent Tory Liberals defend Brent losing out on resources while other areas are having Budget increases?

I have blogged about this before LINK.

Why should Brent have to cut more than others? If Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit and the Coalition Government are holier than thou, are they still defending the level of cuts to Brent compared to others and supporting the damage made to Brent while other Councils are being given more money?

Free Fireworks display – Saturday 5th November at 6pm to 10pm in Barham Park

Following Lib Dem and Tory cuts to Brent Council, there will not be a Diwali parade along Ealing Road like there was last year. However, there will be a free fireworks display at Barham Park to celebrate fireworks night and Diwali on Saturday 5th November from 6pm to 10pm. The Funfair at the park will start at 6pm with fireworks at 8.30 pm with lasers. The event is scheduled to close at 10pm.

Visitors are advised not to drive to the event as it is on a Wembley Stadium Event day and therefore parking is restricted in the area and if you park without a permit, your car may be towed.

You can use the following bus routes to get to the event: 18,92, 182, 204, 245. The actual address for the Park is, Barham Park, Sudbury HA0 2HB.

If the event cannot go ahead on 5th November because of bad weather,  it will be postponed to Sunday 6 November 2011.

Lib Dem Councillors attack Coalition Government for local government cuts

80 senior Lib Dem Councillors across the country have spoken out against the Coalition spending plans, saying that they are too much and too fast.  Brent is being forced to cut £104 million out of a budget of £260 million over the next four years.

LINK to article on BBC

Glenda Jackson MP: COUNCIL CUTS “AN ATTACK ON OUR COMMUNITY”

Climate Question Time @ Hampstead & Kilburn
Glenda Jackson MP stands up for Brent (image via Flickr)

Glenda Jackson, Labour Member of Parliament for Hampstead & Kilburn, slammed local government cuts as an attempt to destroy the welfare state through the back door.

Glenda said:“ Councils provide many of the frontline services we all rely on, and protect some of the most vulnerable in our community. The latest cuts to their budgets are of such a scale, they have no choice but to stop providing some services altogether.

Up and down the country, Councils of all political colours are having to make cuts and increase charges to balance the books, and as usual it will be the most vulnerable – children and the elderly; the disabled and mentally ill – who will suffer most. These cuts are an attack on our community.”

Claims by government ministers that local government cuts are designed to reduce waste have also been rejected as a smokescreen by Ms Jackson.

“Ministers are playing a blame game, trying to argue these cuts are about executive pay or backroom efficiency, but the sums don’t add up.”

The Borough of Brent which forms part of my constituency faces cuts of £37million next year alone. They could fire every senior manager in the Council and only save a fraction of that amount. It’s obvious these cuts are about dismantling the welfare state.

Ministers should stop trying to mislead the public, and come clean

EXCLUSIVE: local Lib Dem tactics – “pick a cut and champion it”

This is exactly the reason why the Lib Dems cannot be trusted at the local level as well as not a people are realising at the national. A secret local Lib Dem document from a North London local authority has revealed the mentality of the Lib Dems when it comes to campaigning against the cuts. The shocking revelations reveal phrases such as:

‘Pick an unpopular cut and champion it’

and also…

‘We are not running the council, it is not our problem – it’s theirs’

See what else they said here – LINK – Interesting that they would spend so much time and effort on this without concentrating their efforts on genuinely helping people and offering credible alternative to cuts to local services while at the same time cheerleading the Government cuts programme.

This is exactly what they seem to be doing in Brent. Alarming activity from the Lib Dems include Brent Liberal Democrat Councillors signing to call in decisions made by the executive and then not having the decency to turn up to the committee meeting to listen to answers when items are called in.

When I sat on the Council’s Forward Plan committee, this created a few embarrassing situations. On one occasion, the

Source: Bridgwater Labour blog

relevant executive member turned up to answer questions on a called in item, and no Lib Dem could ask a question to clarify their reason for calling the item in. Even more concerning was a called in item to committee which questioned the details of an equality impact assessment when one was still in the process of being produced.

While at the same time the Lib Dems are inflicting unprecedented cuts, at the local level, Lib Dems where not in power are fighting them to boost their own popularity and score brownie points with the electorate. Just as their leader Nick Clegg did before the election – saying all the right things in front of the TV cameras before betraying his Party’s stance on one of the main areas of Government policy; the economy.


Coalition Cuts to Brent Council: Children and Families

I previously mentioned here, that I would provide greater detail to reduction in Central Government Grants allocated to Brent Council for Children and Families. In Summer 2010 the Government cut £1,882,000 to Brent Council’s Children and Families Grant.

The detail of Sarah Teather’s Government cuts stemming from the reduction in ‘hidden grants’ to Brent’s Children are impossible to justify or defend.

They include:

  • £68,000 reduction to care at home packages.
  • £101,000 reduction in grant to fund Connexions. This will lead to non-renewal of four staff contracts and reduce contracts with the voluntary sector. Connexions provide information and advice to people to help make the decisions and choices in their lives.
  • £26,000 grant to help tackle young people’s substance misuse. This could lead to a reduction in outreach work and targeted support.
  • £162,000 reduction in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
  • £211,000 reduction in the Children’s Fund grant which could lead o a reduction of contracts for ESOL classes, parental support for vulnerable families, targeted sexual advice and support and an e-safety programme.
  • £27,000 reduction in Teenage Pregnancy Grant which could lead to reduced services provided to children in Brent at risk of becoming parents.
  • £45,000 reduction in the Youth Opportunities Fund which will lead to schemes being reduced or re-prioritised.
  • A whopping £326,000 reduction in the Think Family grant, which will lead to a reduction in support to parents which is available at universal as well as targeted levels as well as a reduction in the Family Intervention Programme.
  • £75,000 reduction in the Playbuilders grant which will lead to ceasing or scaling back of schemes that were already agreed to extend children’s play facilities.
  • £30,000 cut to the Brent Community Friends grant, which will lead to some loss in services that are provided directly to looked after children.

As the Government Minister in the Department for Education, it is atrocious that MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather is inflicting so much damage to Brent’s children. Especially to those who are most vulnerable as the outlined cuts mentioned above suggest.