Neasden Clean Up Day – Saturday 23rd February 2013 – Time: 10am to 1pm

Neasden Parage signI am working with ABi Associates to organise a Clean Up Day in Neasden.

The meeting place is 10am at the Grange, Neasden Lane NW10 1QB (on the Neasden Roundabout).

Join local business owners, residents and Brent Councillors and help us clean up Neasden. Refreshments will be offered and all tools and equipment will be provided.

For more information please contact: Vijay Amin on 020 8438 4550 and / or email him on info@abi.co.uk

Please wear warm clothes and note that under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

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£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

Sarah Teather may have been absent for the Welfare Reform Bill vote, but her voting record on the Lords’ amendments tells a different story

Much has been made about Sarah Teather’s now public opposition against the Government’s flagship Welfare Reforms. It featured prominently in the Guardian as a lead story over the weekend where she claimed that what the Government, which she was a part of, was immoral and divisive – LINK.

When it came to the vote for the Welfare Reform Bill, the Brent Central MP was a notable absentee. However, her voting record on the amendments from the Lords paints a different picture.

She voted loyally with her Tory Liberal pals on the Welfare Reform Bill Clause 11 about Housing costs – LINK

3B Page 5, line 21, at end insert—

In relation to a dwelling of which the landlord is a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, and no suitable alternative accommodation (as defined in regulations to be made under this section, and provided by any such provider) is available, regulations under this section shall not permit the housing cost element of the universal credit to be less than the actual amount of the liability in a case where a household has no more than one spare bedroom, and—

(a) the claimant is subject to no work related requirements in accordance with the provisions of section 19;

(b) the claimant, or a child or a young person for whom either or both the claimants is responsible, is in receipt of disability living allowance, or personal independence payment, or attendance allowance or an increase of disablement pension where constant attendance is required; or

(c) the claimant is a war widow or widower; or

(d) the claimant routinely provides foster care placements.

(3B) In subsection (3A), “claimant” means a single claimant or joint claimant.””

Clause 68

26B Page 52, line 36, at end insert—

“( ) In relation to a dwelling of which the landlord is a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, and no suitable alternative accommodation (as defined in regulations to be made under this section, and provided by any such provider) is available, regulations under this Welfare Reform Bill 3 section shall not permit the AMHB to be less than the actual amount of the liability in a case where a household has no more than one spare bedroom, and—

(a) the claimant is subject to no work-related requirements in accordance with the provisions of section 11D of the Welfare Reform Act 2007;

(b) the claimant, their partner or a child or a young person for whom the claimant (or their partner) is responsible, is in receipt of disability living allowance, or personal independence payment, or attendance allowance or an increase of disablement pension where constant attendance is required;

(c) the claimant is a war widow or widower; or

(d) the claimant or their partner routinely provides foster care placements.”

Lords Amendment 3B and 26B that was voted down by Sarah Teather

In short, disabled people who have had their properties adapted or live in accessible accommodation face the prospect of being penalised for having an extra room. This will have a detrimental impact on people who have had their own property made accessible for their individual needs and could lead to people having to move and make their new property accessible! In addition, people who are wheelchair users and may need the extra room for storing equipment such as mobility scooters and standing frames also will be adversely affected by this Government’s damaging policy. This Lords amendment on the Welfare Reform Bill, which Sarah Teather voted down would have protected the most vulnerable in our society from what is being called the ‘Bedroom Tax.’

On reading the New Clause 2 on Childcare (Welfare Reform Bill (Programme) (No. 2)) she voted loyally with Government (LINK) She voted with Government on (Programme) (No. 2) Schedule 1 Universal credit: supplementary regulation-making powers (LINK) and also on (Programme) (No. 2) on Financial conditions (LINK)

Sarah Teather may have been absent for the Welfare Reform Bill vote, but her voting record on clauses and amendments tells a different story. To coin a phrase that London Assembly Member Tom Copley used, Teather’s crocodile tears on the Government’s welfare reforms is pure Lib-Demmery at its worst.

Vote Gladstone Park!

I am calling on our Borough’s park lovers and residents to give a Brent park their vote in this year’s People’s Choice Award from Keep Britain Tidy.

English: Gladstone Park A gentleman enjoys the...
English: Gladstone Park A gentleman enjoys the autumn sun from the comfort of a bench beneath the Plane trees along the main avenue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The People’s Choice Award is an annual online vote that gives the British public the power to decide which one of the 1,424 parks or green spaces flying the Green Flag Award or Community Award this year, should be named the site of the year.

As Gladstone Park is  one of Brent’s Green Flag holders, you  can vote for the park in the 2012 awards.

Visit this link to vote for Gladstone Park – LINK

Voting for the People’s Choice Award winner closes at midnight on Sunday 14 October.

Interesting Articles

Here are some interesting articles I have tweeted about this week (in order of latest tweets first)

Serious incident concerning 6,000 X-Rays at Urgent Care Centre at Central Middlesex Hospital

The Urgent Care Centre at Centre Middlesex Hospital under the hospital reconfiguration plans for North West London is due to remain and stay open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. With Accident and Emergency services unlikely to remain at Central Middlesex Hospital, it will play an even more important role in servicing the needs of people in Brent. The Urgent Care Centre at Central Middlesex Hospital is currently outsourced to Care UK, who are a private company.

The Guardian reported in April 2012 that 6,000 X-rays in the possession of Care UK from Central Middlesex Hospital had not been processed. It was logged as a serious incident and investigated.

It was revealed at the recent Health Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny meeting that Care UK knew about the unprocessed X-rays for two weeks and only took an urgent course of action once NHS Brent found out and pressed them on this issue. The NHS Brent representative at the meeting said that they were ‘disappointed’ with Care UK’s response. Sadly, a Care UK representative did not attend the meeting.

Furthermore, it was revealed that the contract does not allow NHS Brent to enforce any fines or penalties on Care UK for their misdemeanour. This lesson must be learned and a penalty should be included in the next contract. Alternative providers must also be explored.

Letter from London Council Leaders: The missing London Borough

Monday’s census information represented a moment of truth for many London boroughs with the survey finally confirming what we have known for a long time: that the population of many Boroughs is growing much faster than those in Westminster think. The Councils we represent have seen above average increases in our population and as a result all have significantly higher populations than was previously projected and funded for.

This isn’t just a technical problem but a real world one that affects real people, as the funding we receive from the Government to provide the services our residents need is based on the incorrect projected figures, not on reality. Between us, we face a funding shortfall of almost £300 million each year as a result of these inadequate population estimates.

Having to deal with the massive cuts to our grants from Government has put huge stress on services in all our Boroughs. Not receiving the funding we are legitimately entitled to will only make this worse. Between us we are missing funding for over 300,000 residents – the equivalent of a large London Borough.

This ‘missing Borough’ means we have all had to make even deeper reductions to the services our residents rely upon than we would have otherwise had to.

As Council Leaders, elected Mayors and Group Leaders we call on the Government to ensure that we receive the funding that we are entitled to. Local Government funding must be based on reality, not fantasy.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council

Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Council

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney

Cllr Chris Robins, Leader of Waltham Forrest Council

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham

Cllr Chris Roberts, Leader of Royal Borough of Greenwich

Cllr Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council

Cllr Jagdish Sharma MBE, Leader of Hounslow Council

Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council

Cllr Joshua Peck, Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group

Sarah Teather a no show at Parliamentary debate on local hospitals

Maybe there was a rational reason why the Tory Liberal Minister could not attend the debate and vote on the NHS and local hospitals.

However, it is good that attention was paid to Central Middlesex Hospital in the debate.

Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said,

Barry Gardiner: Thank you, Sir. I shall try to respect your advice.

In November 2011, the following announcement appeared on the Central Middlesex hospital website:

“A and E at Central Middx Hospital is temporarily closing overnight between 7 pm and 8 am starting from Monday 14 November 2011.

The urgent care centre next to A and E will remain open 24 hrs a day 7 days a week to treat patients with minor injuries and illness.

We are making this temporary change to ensure we continue to provide a safe service to patients during the winter months.”

In those three paragraphs, we hear twice over that that overnight closure is temporary, which gave minimal comfort to my constituents in Brent who used the facility. The overnight closure is indeed temporary. On 2 July, a consultation entitled “Shaping a healthier future” was launched in north-west London, and residents can submit their views until 8 October this year. The consultation, promoted by a transitional body called NHS North West London, aims to centralise and rationalise hospital services in the area. Each proposal outlined in the consultation includes the closure of the A and E at Central Middlesex—not overnight provision, but the 24-hour facility—for good.

The motion speaks of

“the growing gap between Ministers’ statements and what is happening in the NHS”.

I may have trouble agreeing with that, because it depends on which Minister and which statements. The Minister of State, Department for Education, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), received an e-mail from me today advising her that, if called to speak, I would quote her in this evening’s debate. I wanted to do so, because she made the following three statements. First:

“The Tories would be a disaster for the NHS, they plan a part privatised service”.

The second quotation:

“These cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest”.

The third quotation:

“The government must take urgent steps to safeguard our local NHS”.

Those three quotes date respectively from 2003, 2007 and 2007, when the hon. Lady was campaigning to keep open the accident and emergency centre at Central Middlesex hospital—campaigning for something which she, in her government, is now closing. No wonder her latest comment is:

“This flawed consultation, which does not allow residents to say that they want to save the A and E, is a kick in the teeth for all local people.”

I do not speak Parseltongue—I do not understand it—but I deplore the pretence of opposing a policy that you are pushing through in government. That is really disgraceful.

Even Tory MP for Ealing, Angie Bray MP spoke out against what is happening. She said,

Angie Bray: As my right hon. Friend is aware, the proposal is to downgrade four accident and emergency departments across London that are all right beside my constituency. Does he agree with my constituents that losing four accident and emergency departments is disproportionate and will mean a significant loss of service for them locally?

Disabled people targeted by cuts

An article I want to bring to your attention highlighting how disabled people are being sidelined in society and literally being locked away due to budget cuts – LINK

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...
This is the internationally recognized symbol for accessibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cumulative effect of cuts to the Disability Living Allowance, Local Councils, Time-Limiting of Employment Support Allowance, Wheelchair voucher allocation, NHS Services and many more means that the most vulnerable in society are most affected by the Tory Liberal approach of cutting too far too fast.

Rhetoric pushed out by even Government Ministers on how benefits are for scroungers and the undeserving out of work has led to it being acceptable to push through cuts that affect people who genuinely have an impairment.

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations at the Willesden Swaminarayan Temple

English: Shree Swaminarayan Temple This Hindu ...
English: Shree Swaminarayan Temple This Hindu Temple is on Willesden Lane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, I was delighted to attend the Diamond Jubilee celebration at the Willesden Swaminarayan Temple.

It was great to see members of the Gujarati community which I am a part of celebrate along side local residents and Brent’s elected representatives, including Councillors and our local Brent and Harrow London Assembly Member Navin Shah.

Photos of the event can be viewed here – LINK