Money for social care is not ‘extra’ money

The Government’s announcement in yesterday’s Budget of ‘extra’ money for social care is complete smoke and mirrors and fails to address the issues of chronic underfunding of social care. In Brent, the Tories and Lib Dems have taken over £150 million from Brent Council, significantly reducing the money that we have available locally to pay for social care.

The announcement in yesterday’s Budget was for £2billion ‘extra’ funding over the next three years.

The Government has completely ignored the fact the the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have taken £5.5 billion out of social care in the last few years. In simple balance terms, the £2 billion puts social care in a net position of  MINUS £2.5billion.

In addition, the Government has only committed this money for a three year period so as far as we can account for, in 2020, we will be back in the position of -£5.5 billion as the ‘extra’ £2 billion will no longer be there. In addition we have no information on how the money will be allocated.

Don’t be fooled by the Government saying they are putting more money into social care! They are merely applying a sticking plaster on an open headwound, having caused the injury themselves!

Brent Council agrees to freeze Council Tax again

Budget
Budget (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

Residents in Brent will benefit from a freeze in Council Tax in the forthcoming financial year.

At the Budget meeting on Monday, which will be the last Budget set at the Town Hall, the measures were passed because of votes from Labour Party Councillors.

£907 million funding gap for London Councils projected within five years

New analysis has revealed that there is a projected £907 million funding gap in London Council budgets by 2018 due to social care pressures.

Indeed Brent’s own projections show that there is a £45 million gap due to care pressures by 2020. The projections are accurately mapped out and take into consideration factors such as, cuts to Council budgets, the rise in the elderly population, the fact that younger and working age disabled people are living longer with long-term conditions too.

The one element where there is cost uncertainty is in charges. Social care provision is means-tested and with rising levels of poverty and a squeeze on other disability and housing benefits, we may find that more will be provided with free or heavily subsidised services because of the nature of means-testing.

budget
budget (Photo credit: The Survival Woman)

London Councils currently spend a third of their budgets on social care. The Local Government Association (LGA) in a separate report in June last year warned that without reform, the public can expect a cut of 90% of funding in popular services such as libraries and leisure centres.

Indeed in the first budget of the current Council administration the two significant areas of overspend and pressure on top of the front loaded cuts to Brent Council were adult social care and children in care. Unfortunately this received about zero attention though.

The report provides a great case for wholesale health and social care integration and more support to local authorities. You can read the full report here LINK

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.

Brent’s 2011/2012 budget tonight

(c) Steve Cadman

Tonight the Council will be debating and the Budget for 2011/2012. Brent experienced an in year budget cut for 2010/2011 as additional pressures were put on Brent following reductions in our income on money that had already in some cases been spent.

We now tonight must pass a balanced budget incorporating the front-loaded cuts that have to be made as part of the £105 million in savings that we must make in our revenue budget. This is my first experience of a Local Authority Budget and as it stands at the moment, Brent will be making cuts in every budget for the whole Comprehensive Spending Review Period in years 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. Tonight is only wave one.

Full Council Meeting 22nd November 2010 (last night)

Yesterday was the night of the Full Brent Council Meeting.

One of the items on the agenda was the first reading of the Council Budget. Not one Tory or Lib Dem Councillor seemed to ask a question on any items in the paper. It seems that they have been asleep for the past few years. They talked of financial mismanagement of the last Labour Government totally ignoring the banking crisis as if it was some imaginary incident.

What was really surprising was how outdated their Councillors are. Lib Dem Councillor Sami Hashi described £7 billion as ‘chicken-feed’. Tory leader Councillor Harshadbhai Patel quoted the £100 million in cuts and the £37 million that Brent Council would have to make next years as ‘nothing’ echoing ‘words of wisdom’ from a senior Tory last week who claimed that we’ve ‘never had it so good’. He also said that the Labour Government gave nothing to Brent. That is simply not true. The evidence is all there in people’s everyday lives. Record levels of investment in our NHS, record levels of investment in our schools, the Winter Fuel Allowance which benefits many of our elderly residents year-on-year, Children’s Centres, the transformation of the Central Middlesex Hospital, The Crest Academy, Wembley High, Capital City Academy… I could go on and on.

The Tories left our primary schools with catastrophic levels of underinvestment. Schoolchildren in Brent had to go outside in the cold to get to toilets that would be on the other side of the school building. That is beyond underinvestment. It was a scandal.

Labour did fix the roof while the sun was shining and Brent is far better off after 13 years of a Labour Government than it ever would have been under the Tory and Lib Dems.

EXCLUSIVE: Brent Lib Dems’ carelessness will ruin Brent’s finances

On a day where the media focus is on the last Budget before the Parliamentary election is called, I turn my attention to the Brent Council Budget of 2010 (Brent Council Budget Presentation 2010 to 2011).

The Brent Liberal Democrats are showing alarming signs that they are unfit to manage public finances. We are already seeing the consequences of their ‘management’ with significant Council job cuts in the pipeline. The holes in their latest Brent budget are more alarming than the potholes on our roads.

They have assumed in their budget that the change in inflation of general expenditure will be 0% in the next year. But the current Retail Price Index rate of inflation stands at 3.7%!

I know of no other body that has made this assumption in their Budgets. On 6th May, Voters will have a choice to Bring Labour Back to Brent to fix the mess that will inevitably be left by this Lib Dem administration.

Brent Labour’s Budget Proposals

On Monday 1st March Brent Council met to determine its budget for 2010-11. Labour opposed the package of cuts and redundancies proposed by the Lib Dem/Tory administration. Labour also re-affirmed its promise to scrap the £25 charge for bulky refuse collection, which has led to an epidemic of dumping across the Borough Other proposals included:

FREE PARKING TO ENCOURAGE LOCAL SHOPPING FOR LOCAL PEOPLE

Labour will be proposing free parking for the first hour in council car parks (all of which are close to local shopping centres) in order to discourage local people from driving to ‘out of town’ shopping centres like Brent Cross, where parking is free, to encourage people to shop locally. This would have the effect of reducing carbon emissions and also have the effect of boosting local businesses with local people using local shops.

Labour’s Transport Spokesperson, Cllr Lena Ahmed, said:

“We believe that parking restrictions and charges in local shopping centres are bad for business and we want to encourage local shopping for local people so that local people use local shops. The cost in lost revenue is a mere £96,840, which is a small price to pay for a significant boost to the local economy during the world economic downturn”.

Labour is also calling for residents’ parking charges to be linked to carbon emissions with higher charges for vehicles which cause the most pollution.

These measures will form part of a ‘Green Charter’, which Labour will present to the electorate as part of its manifesto.

AN END TO THE LIB DEMS’ CARE CHARGE RIP-OFF

Having promised free personal care for the elderly before the last election, The Brent Lib Dems have increase some home care charges by nearly 300%. Labour voted against these increases and is pledged to review the charges. However, the government has now introduced the Personal Care at Home Bill, which will eliminate many of these charges.

Labour’s Spokesperson for Adults, Health & social Care, Cllr Ruth Moher, said:

“Those who receive home care are amongst the most vulnerable people in our borough and we will protect them”.

NO TO HOUSING ON PUBLIC OPEN SPACE

Labour’s budget proposals contain a specific pledge to reverse the Lib Dems’ plans for housing development in Barham Park and to protect all public open space from rapacious developers. In December, the Lib Dem controlled Executive agreed the sale of 776-778 Harrow Road, Wembley, which is in Barham Park, for housing development and Labour fears that a tower block may be built there.

Labour’s Environment and Planning Spokesperson, Cllr James Powney, said:

“The Lib Dems sneaked this report through the Executive just before Christmas and entitled it ‘Disposal of 776-778 Harrow Road’ in the hope that nobody would notice that the site is in fact IN Barham Park. The report allows for housing development on the site. Labour is opposed to any housing being built on public open space and we will fight this proposal all the way”.

Labour’s budget proposals also sought to reverse the sale of the scout hut at Oliver Goldsmith School.

ACTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

With Brent South Labour MP, Dawn Butler, being Minister for Young People, it is no surprise that Labour’s budget proposals seek to improve services for teenagers and young people. The party proposes a multi use games area in every suitable open space and regrets the Lib Dems’ decision to remove years 2 & 3 funding from the budget for improvements to Kingsbury’s Roe Green Park. Labour is also committed to restoring the cut in funding for the ‘Positive Activities for Young People’ programme, which is a Youth Service project working with young people at risk of social exclusion engaging them in constructive activity programmes in order to assist their progress into education or employment.

Labour’s spokesperson for Children and Families, Cllr Mary Arnold, said:

“It’s a false economy to cut youth spending because with nothing better to do, young people can sometimes drift into trouble, become a nuisance to everybody else and miss out on educational and employment opportunities, which will affect their life chances. Given the opportunity for positive activities, young people generally develop their talents and skills and they will thrive”.

SUPPORT FOR ADVICE AGENCIES

Labour will maintain the £22,000 one off increase in funding for advice agencies and seek to develop innovative ways to link advice, debt management and job seeking support services.

Kilburn ward Councillor Mary Arnold, who has campaigned against the closure of Brent In2 Work and cuts to advice services, said:

“Brent is slowly emerging from the world wide recession but the recovery is fragile and will be put at risk if the Tories or Liberals are in power. It is therefore important to retain the extra funding for advice agencies and to link advice, debt management and job seeking support services.

REPAIR POT HOLES BEFORE PAYING CONSULTANTS

Labour Councillors will slash spending on consultants by £1.5 million and use the money saved to repair pot holes and broken pavements. The Council’s own budget report shows that the cost of claims for injuries sustained on broken pavements has risen by over 30%. The Lib Dem and Tory council is also proposing to cut spending on street cleaning.

Labour’s Environment Spokesperson, Cllr James Powney, said:

“There are more pot holes in Brent’s roads than there are in the Yorkshire Dales and they are a danger to motorists in general and especially to cyclists. Meanwhile, broken pavements are an ever present danger to disabled residents and others with impaired mobility. Instead of wasting money on consultants who tell us nothing new we should repair our roads and pavements”.

Labour will also be seeking to reduce the grossly excessive spending of £16 million a year on temporary and agency staff.

Labour’s Deputy Leader and Finance Spokesperson, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said:

“How can the Lib Dems and Tories justify employing nearly 600 temporary and agency staff at a cost in excess of £16 million a year when we are sacking 250 permanent staff?”