Thursday February 1, 2018
Though it's early days in 2018, January proved to be a busy month. From a visit by the Duchess of Cambridge, to an agreement to rollout electric vehicle charging points across the borough, Brent has a keen eye on the future. With that in mind, a New Year also means another year of cuts from central government.
By the end of March next year, the council will have had cut £164m from its budget since 2010. Again, £164 million pounds. These year-on-year cuts to Brent's budget just continue to pile on the pressure for vital services that people rely on.
When will it be enough? I know the people of Brent have certainly had enough. That's why I met with the Local Government Minister in January to argue for a fairer funding deal for Brent's residents.
The latest deal from Whitehall shows that our funding from central government will be cut again in 2018/19.
We plan ahead, and suspected something like this would happen, but this still means that we need to make savings of £12.9m in order to deliver a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement.
Housing is also a hot topic and we’re calling on the government to remove rules that restrict councils' power to borrow so that more affordable homes can be built in Brent.
This has left us with tough choices. No matter how efficient the council becomes, deep and sustained cuts in funding mean less money for the services residents rely on. We need a fairer deal from the government, not a passing of the tax buck, for us to plug part of the gap with council tax rises.
At Brent Connects meetings throughout the borough, we’re consulting residents on a 4.99% increase in council tax this year, or extra £1.37 a week for Band D households.
Like many councils, we have funding challenges in adults' and children's social care, refuse disposal, and maintenance of our streets and pavements to name just a few.
Increasing council tax by the price of a cup of tea each week can ensure that every resident is looked after. This increase includes a 2% rise for adult social care which is spent on our most vulnerable, elderly residents.
Councillor Muhammad Butt