Labour’s budget for 2012/13 has two main themes, social mobility and local democracy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has cited the UK as one of the worst countries for levels of social mobility and this is in the number one priority in Brent. Council Tax is also yet again frozen this year.
Most Brent residents have incomes lower than the £26,000 benefit cap, 12,000 (9.3%) of them are unemployed and youth unemployment is a particular problem. One third of Brent children are living in poverty (that is living in households where the household income is below £15,000 a year) and the changes in the welfare reform bill and localisation of housing benefit will make the situation even worse. Children born into poverty are most likely to become poor adults.
In Labour’s budget proposals is a pledge to establish a Commission on Social Mobility to be chaired by an academic to ensure that council policy is geared towards enabling local people to achieve their full potential. Meanwhile, the Council is providing £350,000 as starter funding to develop a new employment service to work in partnership with other agencies to help local residents back into work.
Meanwhile, in order to address the democratic deficit caused by the Coalition government’s removal of powers from local government, Labour Brent is to double the budget for ward working whereby local people working with their local councillors determine activities and projects within their own communities. From now on every ward will receive £40,000 to spend on local initiatives that matter to them.
Brent Council’s Labour Leader, Cllr Ann M John, OBE, said:
“The gap between rich and poor is growing all the time with the top ten per cent of earners now earning twelve times as much as the bottom ten per cent. In Brent average earnings are only just at the national average whilst house prices are twice the national average. Social mobility and getting people back to work has to be our number one priority. But we are also giving local people a say in projects in their area by doubling the ward working budget. The government may talk about localism but we practice it”.
Voters have always been cynical about politicians who make extravagant promises only to renege on them a few months later but never in recorded history has a party betrayed every principle it ever stood for as the Liberal Democrats have done since May 6th.
Before the election, the Lib Dems supported Labour in not wishing to cut too fast too soon for fear of a double dip recession. Now they have supported the largest cuts package in the western world. Before the election they described Tory plans to increase VAT as a ‘secret VAT bombshell’ but they have since voted to increase VAT to 20%. Before the election, they gave a commitment to universal child benefit but they have since supported scrapping child benefit for some middle income families but not others. For years, they promised to abolish tuition fees; indeed it was the subject of Sarah Teather’s maiden speech. Now they are in favour of doubling tuition fees. In March this year, Sarah Teather berated the Tories for planning to abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes; now they support new council tenancies at 80% of market rents and the abolition of security of tenure for those tenants. During the election, the Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg described the alternative vote system (AV) as “a miserable little compromise”. By September he was saying that “AV is infinitely fairer than what we have at the moment”.
Brent Council’s Labour Leader, Councillor Ann M John, OBE has compiled a brief list of Lib Dem quotes made in the run up to the May election all of which have been comprehensively disavowed in the five months since the election.
I will be publishing extracts from the list which is entitled ‘The Fib Dems in their own words’ on my blog page over the next few weeks
Councillor Ann John said:
“The Fib Dems are the harlots of British politics. They will say anything and do anything to get into government. In less than six months they have betrayed every policy they fought the election on. They give all politicians a bad name”.
Labour plans to abolish the Dumpers’ Charter on 1st October 2010 despite the fact that the Lib Dems are attempting to pettily call-in the decision.
The Labour executive will ignore Lib Dem delaying tactics and we will keep our promise to abolish the £25 charge for bulky refuse collection. The abolition of the charge was our number one pledge in our local Brent Labour manifesto and the Council’s ruling Executive voted to implement the abolition from 1st October 2010.
However, the Liberal Democrat Opposition has now pettily ‘called in’ the Executive’s decision in an attempt to delay implementation.
The Labour Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, has lambasted the Lib Dems’ delaying tactics and she is determined to abolish the charge. Cllr John said:
“Unlike the Lib Dems who have betrayed every principle they ever had in return for ministerial limousines, we believe in keeping our promises and we will not be deflected by childish delaying tactics.
This was our number one pledge and we have a clear mandate to implement it. The people of Brent have spoken and if the Lib Dems had any respect for the democratic process at all they would accept the electorate’s decision. The fact that they are still trying to overturn the policy shows that they are neither liberal nor democratic”.
The £25 charge was introduced by the previous Liberal Democrat administration. It quickly led to an epidemic of illegal dumping and became widely known as the ‘Dumpers’ Charter’.
In Dudden Hill, the infamous Bermans and Leeland Way dump developed which infuriated residents for over a year. Within a week of being elected, the site was cleared after Lib Dem Councillors neglected and ignored residents LINK
The scrapping of the charge will help make scenes like this a thing of the past and shows commitment from the Brent Labour administration to improve services for our residents despite the wave of cuts that are being dished out by Sarah Teather’s Lib Dem / Tory Coalition Government.