Tory Social Care proposals could have devastating consequences for families in Brent

The Conservative Party’s “reckless” manifesto pledge could have devastating consequences for families in Brent. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading national expert who provided an independent report to the Government on social care has described the Tory proposals as the biggest stealth tax in history. Despite government previously saying they would consult with the public on the best way forward, this high-cost policy has come out of the blue. While many families from many backgrounds will be affected, South Asian communities, who often live together across generations, could be hit particularly hard, with Tory proposals leaving them at risk of becoming homeless.

At present, social care is means tested and the value of the property that people are living in is not taken into account as part of that calculation. The proposal announced in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto will include the value of a person’s home. If this damaging policy goes ahead, equity in the family home will be eaten into and after the cared for individual passes away, the home will have to be sold. As too many families know, the costs of caring for someone with dementia can be catastrophic and with people living longer and dementia prevalence rising, more people will need social care for longer.

These proposals have not been properly thought through. They raise more questions, cause more problems and quite simply fail to deliver much needed solutions for the social care crisis. What happens if there is a partner still living in the property when the person receiving social care passes away? Will they have to be thrown out of their own home so the remaining social care bill can be paid? Even if the issue of property and living partners is resolved by delaying the debt payment until they have passed away too, the policies outlined in the manifesto will cause devastation to large sections of the Brent population and South Asian communities in particular.

In Brent and other areas, South Asian communities choose to live in the same family home and it is not uncommon for up to four generations of a family to be living in the same property. The housing crisis has also meant that families are even choosing to build and expand their home and live together rather than enter the housing market. It is ironic that the section of the manifesto that this proposal appears in is under the heading ‘a restored contract between the generations’ as their approach completely ignores the intergenerational dependencies of families who strive to care for each other.

When elderly relatives pass away after receiving social care, their children could find themselves homeless. The Tories say that families will be able to keep £100,000 of equity in the family home. The average price of a property in Brent is £535,803 meaning that their children will have to try and find on average £435,000 to try and keep their family home.

On top of bringing the social care system to the brink of collapse over the last seven years, the current Tory thinking looks to create even more problems rather than solutions to the crisis.

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Brent Leadership Team confirmed for 2014/2015

Brent Cabinet 2014-2015

At the Council AGM on Wednesday, the Brent Council Leadership team was confirmed.

The cabinet has been cut down by 20% to just 8 now. With the Council faced with number reductions at Director and staff level, it was only right that this was reviewed too.

The full cabinet

Leader of the Council – Cllr Muhammed Butt

Deputy Leader – Cllr Michael Pavey

Adults, Health and Wellbeing – Cllr Krupesh Hirani

Children and Young People – Cllr Ruth Moher

Employment and Skills – Cllr Roxanne Mashari

Environment – Cllr Keith Perrin

Regeneration and Housing – Cllr Margaret McLennan

Stronger Communities – Cllr James Denselow

Cllr Kana Neeharathan will be the Mayor of Brent and Cllr Lesley Jones will serve as Deputy Mayor. Chair of Scrutiny is Cllr Aslam Choudry and Cllr Sarah Marquis will now Chair the Planning Committee.

The Tories probably stole the show on the night as it emerged that they would split into two political parties – the Brondesbury Park Conservative Group and the Conservative Party.

It seems bizarre as it was only a couple of weeks ago that residents in Brondesbury Park voted in three Conservative Councillors.

Our contract to Brent residents: 150 ways Labour will make Brent better

We’ve developed a fully costed plan to bring down your energy billshelp 1,000 local people get jobscreate 3,500 new school places for our children, Introduce whole person care for elderly and disabled people and clean up our streets.

LINK

It’s a plan to renew our borough’s sense of community. Because Brent Labour believe that together we’re better, and that by working together we can turn the challenges we face into opportunities and emerge from these tough times as a stronger and fairer borough.

You can read about this plan here- in our manifesto contract above or in the second part of our manifesto, which spells out our commitments to you in a bit more detail: 150 ways Labour will make life better for the 312,000 people who call Brent home.

Brent Council executive approve fresh approach to Church End regeneration

ChurchEnd Market SaveTheNHS petition
At Church End Market

Last week at the Council’s Executive meeting, the Labour run administration agreed to get officers to develop and publicly consult on a new mixed use development on the Council owned section of land in this area, which will also include the provision of a new market square. The council’s intention is to secure planning permission and seek a developer partner to develop the site.

Over the last 10 years ago, there have been quite a few plans coming forward from the main landowner in this area, Catalyst, but due to unforeseen circumstances, issues such as the way housing partners need to fund schemes, etc, it has been difficult to get these plans going.

Church End is identified as one of the five borough Growth Areas and as a Priority Neighbourhood in the Council’s Regeneration Strategy.

This decision means we are looking at options to kick start the regeneration of the Church End local centre by developing proposals to bring forward a more rationalised development on the Council owned land within the car-park.

Although the proposals would deliver fewer homes than a comprehensive redevelopment of the area the scheme would still involve the provision of a new public square which would provide a permanent home for the Church End market. The new market square will be designed to be publicly accessible to all.

No doubt there will be scepticism as many plans have emerged over the last ten years, but I am personally committed to do what I can to drive this forward.

To see the decision document, click on the LINK

No to Harlesden Incinerator

The Brent Labour Party is running a campaign to stop the Harlesden incinerator. For information on this, see the following LINK

No_Harlesden_Incinerator

With the Brent Cross incinerator and the Harlesden one, Brent Central stands to be sandwiched by two incinerators.

When words can be twisted and manipulated to infer something that isn’t the case

I have noticed that an attack piece has been put out by the Willesden and Brent Times about Brent Council not campaigning against the proposal to close A&E permanently at Central Middlesex Hospital. This is the quote that was supplied to the local paper when they contacted the Group on the issue:

“Brent Labour has given its full support to the campaign against the Coalition’s plans. Labour Councillors condemned the plans in the Council Chamber and have been working with the community to raise awareness of the issue, including writing to Andrew Lansley, raising the issue with residents on the doorstep and we agreed to meet campaigners weeks ago. Both Cllr Butt and myself will address the march against the closures on 15th September. However, it is difficult to use Brent Council resources to back campaign is because unlike in Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham, there is no cross party support for the campaign. Both the Lib Dems and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government. We will continue to campaign on this issue as a wider Brent Labour Party.”

This was what the Willesden and Brent Times printed;

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council’s lead member for adults and health, claimed it was “difficult” to back the campaign as there is no cross-party support.

He added: “Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government.

“We will continue to campaign on this issue as Brent Labour Party.

The changing of one sentence  (highlighted in bold) and manipulating the term “difficult” used in my sentence by the paper means that it could be read that Labour Councillors are not supporting campaigners. The issue is not whether Brent Labour supports the campaign or not, we do.

The issue is whether we use taxpayer resources, or Labour Party resources. So far, we have opted to use Labour Party resources. This is because it is difficult to justify using Council resources to campaign in cases where there is not cross party agreement.

Otherwise, the Labour Party could just abuse its position as the leading party in Brent and use taxpayer money to campaign on other issues that we believe are damaging the prospects of people in Brent, like for example, the trebling of tuition fees and the Government’s deficit reduction plan.

Open letter from Councillor James Allie – Alperton Ward, Brent

It is with great sadness that after more than 10 years as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, this week I have resigned my membership of the party. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I wanted to help make Britain a fairer, greener and more equal country. I no longer believe that the Liberal Democrat Party can make this happen. They have betrayed the values that I once shared with them.

However, I do believe that the Labour Party, under their new Leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt along with Ed Miliband in Westminster, shares my values and that I can as part of a Labour administration continue to work for the people of Brent.

I find that I am unable to lend my support to the devastating policies the Coalition is inflicting on Britain. In particular I have been sickened by the hypocritical things the Liberal Democrats do and say here in Brent.While my feelings about this have built up over the past two years, there are three issues that have finally pushed me to take this decision:

  1. The people I represent in Alperton are struggling more than ever under this government, but the Liberal Democrat Leadership in Westminster is prioritising reform of the House of Lords instead of a plan for economic growth.
  2. The closure of the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital under this government is an astonishing betrayal. Sarah Teather campaigned to keep the A&E when it was not under threat of closure. Now she is in government closing it. I am only sorry that I trusted her back then and I am sure that a number of her constituents feel the same way.
  3. Paul Lorber also knows very well that had the Lib Dems won the Local Election in 2010 they would have faced the same pressure to close the six libraries in Brent. It is the Coalition cuts to local government that are causing this problem and Cllr. Lorber’s posturing on the issue is just an insult to the library campaigners and the people of Brent.

I recognise that some of my constituents in Alperton will feel let down by my decision. I apologise to them if they feel I ought to have nailed my colours to the mast more firmly before the election. Equally I trust that many of them voted for me because they knew of the hard work that I have done as a councillor over the years.  I pledge to them that I will work harder than ever to improve the lives of everyone who lives in Alperton. I know that there are many people who voted Lib Dem at the last election and indeed many Lib Dem members who feel as betrayed as I do by the party’s record in the coalition. I urge them to join me and to join the Labour Party.

Regards,

Councillor James Allie

 

25 Years On

Cllr Hirani with Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MPI was delighted to attend the 25 years on event celebrating the 1987 historic election when four ethnic minority MPs, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were elected to Parliament. The event was held at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. Paul was of course a MP in Brent and now sits in the House of Lords.

Indeed that weekend, I had been watching the Election 1987 programme on BBC Parliament and it was evident that it was an exciting election all around. In terms of social progress in society, it was great for ethnic minorities in this country. It paved the way towards seeing more ethnic minorities in public life in prominent positions. There are 27 ethnic minority MPs in the current Parliament, serving as either Labour or Conservative MPs.

I am proud of the progress that our Brent Labour Group is making and our ethnic composition that reflects the diversity of Brent. Around 60% of the Brent come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 60% of the Labour Group are ethnic minorities.

It’s great progress that Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt is one of three ethnic minority Leaders of a London Borough Council. Despite London’s diversity, it is surprising that there are not more.

Brent Labour’s Mikey Pavey triumphs with a sensational Barnhill by-election victory

Welcome to the London Borough of Brent Cllr Michael Pavey

Mikey Pavey has emphatically won the Barnhill by-election. He polled more than all of the other candidates put together in a ‘marginal’ ward. Turnout was 37%.

Name

Party Votes Percentage
Martin Francis Green

613

14.3%

Michael Pavey Labour

2326

54.4%

Kanta Pindoria Tory

1180

27.6%

Venilal Vaghela Independent

156

3.6%

4275

Michael will be an asset to the Council and has run a formidable grassroots doorstep campaign in Barnhill and inspired residents in the Ward to come out and support him. His approach, energy, passion, commitment is unrivalled in Brent election history and his victory is well deserved.

Up until the May 2010 local Brent Council elections, Barnhill Ward had three Tory Councillors. Mikey is helping to transform Barnhill into a Labour stronghold and will not be complacent in taking voter support for granted. I fully trust him to continue to do his utmost for Barnhill residents as people feel the pinch from the Tory Liberal approach to addressing the deficit.

A week in the life of Cllr Hirani

Being a Councillor takes a lot of commitment. Here is what I did last week to give you a flavour.

Monday

I spent Sunday evening going through the Council’s budget for 2012/2013 Budget. On Monday evening, the Labour Group were meeting at Brent Town Hall to discuss the Budget so I wanted to be ready with questions and raise any issues arising.

I do also work and have a full time job working for a national disability charity and with the changes that are happening in this sector it is a demanding role. Before I start work I go to the Swaminarayan Temple in Stanmore where my father is a trustee. My Labour Group meeting was at 7.30pm so I worked from 9am to 7pm. I managed to squeeze in a lunch time gym session as I do like to keep fit and the building I work in has a gym. After work, it was straight to the Town Hall and the meeting finished around 10pm.

Tuesday

Another day at work in the office. Squeezed in another gym session. I had no Council meetings in the evening so I took the opportunity to sit down in front of my computer and work until the late hours of the evening on casework. Most of the casework I pick up is from the doorstep. A constituent who lives nearby also came over to my house because she was flying out to India and wanted assistance in buying travel insurance. I was happy to help and hope her trip goes well!

Wednesday

I worked in the office until late afternoon. I had already worked more hours than I was required to by my employer so I took the opportunity to leave the office and meet with Council transport officers in the Neasden area of my ward. I wanted to point out a location where I believe there should be double yellow lines as the sharp bend coupled with cars parking in the spot makes visibility very poor and it is an accident waiting to happen.

In the evening, I went to the American Embassy. I was invited by the Ambassador to an event celebrating the 15 year anniversary of Operation Black Vote. I participated in the organisation’s Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme and shadowed David Lammy MP. He was also at the reception so it was great to have the chance to catch up and have a chat. I also met and spoke to Rushanara Ali MP, Diane Abbott MP (who I was to come to Brent the next day), Lee Jasper, Garth Crooks and Paul Elliott.  I had to rush back from the embassy to get back to Brent. My mates had booked a 930pm pitch at Alperton goals so I finished the evening with a night of 5-a-side football.

Thursday

I worked from home. As I had a work related meeting in central London to get to. I broke away for an hour as part of my break before my meeting to join Brent Labour’s campaign in the Willesden Green area to Save the NHS. We were joined by Diane Abbott MP who is the Shadow Public Health Minister, who handed in a letter calling on Sarah Teather to use her influence to Drop the Bill.

Friday

Again another day in the office. There are usually no Council meeting or Party meetings on Friday evenings so I got the opportunity to have a night out. That Tinseltown milkshake was well earned!

Saturday

After a work free Friday evening, the battery was charged for a weekend of campaign activity. I had time for breakfast with the family in the morning. I went on the doorstep in my Ward and knocked on doors from around 1pm as I do every Saturday. This week we went to the Willesden part of my ward and knocked on doors on Riffell Road and the Marley Walk estate. I had a member of the Party who lives in my ward and extra help is always welcome!

After I finished, I went to Dollis Hill Ward where there is a Council by-election to help with the campaign there. Parvez Ahmed is Labour’s candidate there and he will make a great colleague on the Council.

Sunday

I actioned the casework I collected on the doorstep on Saturday. I drew up an action plan and mapped out roads that I have not been out to since I was elected. I worked out that in 12 weeks time, the whole of Dudden Hill will have been canvassed since I was elected and some roads at least twice!

I then spent the afternoon, a good three hours, out with Parvez in Dollis Hill Ward knocking on doors. Afterwards, I paid home visits to two residents in the Neasden part of my ward regarding some casework. Sunday evening was again spent playing football at Alperton Goals. My mates were short one player for a 5-a-side game so I stepped in!

And so it was ready for another week. Bring on Monday!