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.
Hate crime is the initial focus of a new series of public meetings which aim to tackle difficult issues in our community.
Taking place on 21 July, the hate crime event is part of the Council’s wider ‘It’s Time to Talk’ campaign which aims to empower residents and community leaders to talk about difficult issues and work together with the authorities to tackle them. Important challenges such as hate crime, child sexual exploitation, extremism, gang culture, domestic abuse and harmful practices are all expected to be discussed at separate events throughout the year.
The event on 21 July has a number of high-profile speakers attending, including Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy – Centre for Hate Studies, Stephen Brooks MBE – Coordinator of the Disabled Hate Crime Network and special guest keynote speaker – creative pioneer Samuell Benta. Topics such as what exactly a hate crime is, how big the problem is in Brent and the role of social media in the context of hate crime, will be discussed.
Cllr Harbi Farah and Cllr Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray have both join the council’s Cabinet for the first time following the council’s Annual Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony last night. Harbi is also the first Councillor of Somali origin to serve on Cabinet in Brent.
The appointments were made after Cllr Ruth Moher, former Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, and Cllr James Denselow, former Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, both decided not to stand for their positions previously.
It was a hotly contested AGM process. Labour is the largest Party at the Council and we held a vote between the Labour Group on Saturday to put forward to the Council for appointment. Cabinet appointments are now up until 2018 which is when the next local election will be held.
There are direct individual elections for the Leader and Deputy Leader positions. Cabinet is then elected using a pooled voting system where anyone wishing to stand can put their names forward and the top six
The council’s Leader and Deuputy Leader are:
- Cllr Muhammed Butt – Leader of the Council
- Cllr Margaret McLennan – Deputy Leader of the Council
Cabinet is then elected using a pooled voting system where anyone wishing to stand can put their names forward and the top six are then chosen to be put forward on to the Cabinet. The Leader then appoints Cabinet Members to Portfolio positions. The Cabinet Members and their portfolio positions are:
- Cllr Krupesh Hirani – Community Wellbeing
- Cllr Harbi Farah – Housing
- Cllr Roxanne Mashari – Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills
- Cllr Michael Pavey – Stronger Communities
- Cllr Eleanor Southwood – Environment
- Cllr Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray – Children and Young People
Now that the AGM vote is over and positions are confirmed, we are all looking forward to working together and Leading in our respective areas.
I will be covering Adult Social Care and Public Health as I was before, but in addition I will now also be responsible for Sports and Leisure, which I will be developing going forward using the Council’s Public Health remit. I will also now be chairing the Health and Wellbeing Board – previously Chaired by the Leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt.
London elects has released ward by ward data on the 2016 London Mayoral election results. The results for Brent show that our London Assembly Member Navin Shah and Mayoral Candidate Sadiq Khan polled more that all of the other Parties’ candidates combined with Sadiq Khan winning 51% of the vote, and Navin Shah winning 52% of the entire vote.
Indeed in the Assembly Member breakdown, Navin polled nearly twice as many votes (46912 -52% to 23530 -26%) than Tory candidate Joel Davidson in Brent.
The ward by ward breakdown shows that Labour’s candidate Navin Shah received nearly 400 more votes than Joel Davidson in Brondesbury Park ward in Brent, where the Tory Assembly candidate is a ward Councillor.
The result means that Brondesbury Park is now a winnable ward for Labour at the next local election in 2018.
The full ward by ward breakdown can be found here LINK
In Brent, we are working with the Community to make our area a Dementia Friendly Borough. We were recently featured on London Live where I gave an interview on the issue. Dementia is not just about providing core services but for me it is about a whole community approach on the issue to make sure that everyone is aware of the issue and is mindful of Dementia when they are going about their everyday lives; be it going shopping in a supermarket or queuing to be served at a bank cashier.
This video here explains more has a real life experience from Dianne Campbell who was diagnosed with Dementia at the age of 44.
Community Action on Dementia (CAD-Brent), a local charity, is working in partnership with Brent Council, Brent CCG and a number of other organisations to improve the support for people living with memory loss.
A new website has been launched for the Community Action on Dementia Brent Group.
The Group was formed following the commitment from community organisations to make Brent a Dementia Friendly Borough.
Brent Council’s cabinet has agreed proposals for sharing its ICT services with Lewisham Council, from April 2016. This new shared service will help Brent towards saving £1m each year in the amount it spends on ICT to support the full range of council services.
Cllr Michael Pavey, Brent’s Deputy Leader, said
“This is an absolutely ground-breaking deal. It will save a huge amount of money whilst safeguarding an outstanding service. The Government have slashed our funding in half, but through creative work like this we can protect essential services for residents.”
Now this has been agreed separately by both Lewisham and Brent’s cabinet, this new partnership will be overseen by a joint committee of two councillors from each local authority, and managed by a senior officer from each council. The two councils will then appoint a new lead officer working in both areas to manage the shared service. As the majority of the staff that will be working for the shared service are currently employed by Brent it was agreed that staff currently employed by either Lewisham or their external ICT supplier will also be transferring to Brent; however all staff will be expected to work across both council locations.
The shared service will be looking to provide services to more organisations going forward in order to reduce costs even further.
Brent has already agreed a target of reducing its overall IT spend by £1.62million a year, and this joint service will make the largest contribution to that savings target.
Under a separate arrangement already in place, Brent Council provides ICT services to the Local Government Association and that income also helps contribute towards reduced costs to the Brent council tax payer.
We recently hosted a Hidden Heroes event at the new Brent Civic Centre which was well attended and received by all. It championed disabled people in the Borough. A video clip of the event is below.
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.
Our Safeguarding service at Brent Council is one of the hidden gems in our service portfolio. Not quite as obvious as the bin in front of your house or the streetlights on your road, but Safeguarding in Brent is widely respected as one of the best in the country.
Abuse is not just physical, but also emotional and financial. It is everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to stop it.
The number of reported cases of abuse of adults in Brent has risen from 435 in 2011-12 to 664 at the start of 2013, we fear the real figure may be far higher. Even with the increase in reporting of incidents, inevitably, abuse of adults in all categories is still largely unnoticed and under-reported.
That is why we are promoting our Safeguarding service through a Borough-wide poster campaign. You may have seen images like the one below advertised near you.
Our service campaign has also picked up attention nationally and has been covered in the Guardian here – LINK