With Labour in charge of Brent Council, we have made some landmark changes to improve services for disabled children becoming adults.
Under the Lib Dem Tory system, families told us that it was a shock to them when disabled children became adults as they had not been given any idea of what to expect.
Now because of changes we have made, our Transitions service which works with people transitioning from the childrens to the adult service works with people so they young disabled people can realise and reach their own ambitions. The video clip below has real life examples of people that are currently being helped by Brent Council and I had the pleasure of meeting them personally at the newly opened John Billam Resource Centre recently.
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What was really surprising was how outdated their Councillors are.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.
Earlier this year, the Independent highlighted that it costs on average £201,000 to raise a child in Britain today. Parenting has changed, with many taking more responsibility for their children in many cases, up to and beyond 21 years of age. Helping them to progress through education, in some cases University, giving them a foot up onto the housing ladder; it’s all very costly and now an inevitable part of modern day parenting.
Universal child benefit acknowledges and recognises that it is expensive to raise children in Britain today. Scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme, halting Playbuilder schemes and freezing child benefits are just a few of the ways in which families have been bearing the brunt of the coalition cuts.
We now see Sarah Teather and her Tory pals going further and removing child benefit from some parents. Yes, it may be the case that those on higher incomes may be able to afford raising a child without need for help from benefits. But is it fair that this move now makes some parents with children worse off than wealthy people who do not have children?
The devil is in the detail of this Tory and Lib Dem policy. The benefit removal as proposed would leave households where a only one parent works and earns over £44,000 worse off and would leave parent households with combined incomes of up to £88,000 unaffected, so long as one of them is not earning over £44,000.
That’s the problem with the Government’s proposals as they stand at the moment. It’s always those who are on the fine line, who could do with that extra bit of help, who end up losing out. That is why I am in favour of keeping the universal based approach.
But, although many may agree with the principle of the Con Dem approach, the detail is ill thought out and would be unfair on middle income families. What would be a fairer approach to take is to have higher taxation on all higher income level earners, and not just penalise those who have children. Government should recognise the important role of parenting and acknowledge that bringing up children is expensive. The Lib Dem and Tory approach fails to acknowledge this.
The scrapping of the revolutionary Building Schools for the Future programme serves as a triple whammy to the people of Brent and represents a false economy from Sarah Teather’s Education Department.
First and foremost, it is a cut aimed at the group in society who had no say in the election; children. Instead, the Lib Dem / Tory Coalition has rushed through the Academies Bill, advocating a ‘Free Schools’ policy aimed at schools already doing well and ignoring the issue of there being a shortage in school places in Brent, and fails to address the need to improve our failing schools. Every child should have the right and access to a decent standard of education in a respectable environment and the cuts will mean that children will continue to be educated in dilapidated buildings, unfit for the twenty-first century and that there will not be enough school places to meet the shortages.
Secondly, the building works programme provided an opportunity for stimulus in the building and construction trade. Many are still feeling the effects of the recession and the forthcoming VAT rise will increase the price of building materials, affecting profit margins and thereby adding greater financial pressure in the sector.
Thirdly, schools serve as community hubs. The scrappage deprives young people of decent standard activity centres. Schools buildings can be utilised by Local Authorities to provide after hour services for young people. Better standard building and halls also boost the commercial potential of the schools. Many local people use school halls for weddings and hire them out for private functions and parties.
The Education Department’s Permanent Secretary admitted in a letter to former Secretary of State Ed Balls, that the programme had Treasury approval and had not received any objections. We know there is money for our schools, after all, where will the money for the free schools policy come from?
Link to Article on LabourList
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has published results from national survey on Parental Experiences of Services Provided to Disabled People (LINK) and Brent scored lowest out of the entire country showing Brent to be simply the worst performing Local Authority when it comes to services for disadvantaged children.
The quality of services provided by the Council since the Lib Dem / Tory coalition took control in 2006 have plummeted and this is yet another example of poor performance from what is now a struggling Local Authority. Under Labour, the Council was on course to becoming a under national performance indicators a four star Council. It is now under the Lib Dem / Tory rule still a Three Star Borough but dangerously close to scoring a Two Star rating with the Council scoring Two in the sub-categories of ‘use of resources’, ‘governing the business’ and ‘managing resources’. To see how pathetic the Council is performing across the board in local service provision see the following LINK.
The survey was conducted by social research company TNS-BMRB and scores were given to each local authority based on extensive questioning of parents of disabled children.
The average score for English local authorities was 61 (out of 100), a slight improvement on 59 a year earlier. The best performing local authorities were North Tyneside and Northumberland County Council who both scored 67. Brent’s score of 55 was simply the worst and was down from last year’s score by three points.
Brent Council’s Labour Opposition has repeatedly condemned the Lib Dem and Tory run council for cutting services for disabled older people. Now it appears that the ‘savage cuts’ favoured by the Liberal Democrats and Tories are impacting adversely on disabled children as well.
Labour spokesperson for Children and Families, Councillor Mary Arnold said the report makes shocking reading and it confirms our worst suspicions that services for the most vulnerable have rapidly deteriorated under this incompetent right wing administration. They have clobbered older disabled people by trebling care charges and now it is revealed that their services for disabled children are the worst in the country.
The John Kelly Schools on Crest Road opened up last week as a new Crest Academy. Pupils started school following the summer break in their new purple themed uniforms entering what promises to be a new era for the school. However, the opening at the same time has uncovered scandalous failings of the Lib Dem led Brent administration.
In 2005, when Labour had control of the Council, £5 million was put aside specifically for the John Kelly School(s) to purchase extra land adjacent to the building for the purpose of rebuilding the school. The agreement was also in place to purchase the much needed land through what is called a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). However, the Lib Dems have failed to act on this and follow through the CPO process meaning that the site will now have to be built on the existing inadequate site.
If the extra land was purchased, the new school would be built within two years with creation of a second accessable entrance to the school. Under the Liberal Democrat plans, construction will now take four years to complete. Children of the school will now have to continue to carry on with inadequate recreation, sports and play areas. For sports lessons and sports days, the children will have to travel off-site to use external facilities, costing the school extra money.
At a Council meeting this week, the Labour group this week tried its luck again and according to Kensal Green Councillor James Powney:
Labour made another attempt to get Brent’s Liberal Democrats and Tories to return to their previous policy of a full expansion of the Crest Academies (formerly John Kelly Schools). After a chaotic debate, the Tories and Liberal Democrats voted down our motion to buy more land so that it had greater sports facilities (which Ofsted has identified as the schools’ Achilles heel).
Source: James Powney
The whole saga is just another example of why Brent cannot afford to have the Lib Dems in charge any longer. Dawn Butler has opened up a petition on the BrentLabour website. To support the campaign, visit the following link:
PROTECT OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE Petition