Brent named UK’s best local authority

28 October 2020

Brent has been named ‘Council of the Year’ 2020, at the prestigious Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards, having been recognised for embracing its communities in a celebration of diversity.

Up against shortlisted councils from across the UK, Brent beat off competition from Bristol, Hull, Aderdeen, Calderdale and Adur & Worthing to scoop the top accolade at the online ceremony on Wednesday (Oct 28).

The judges award the Council of the Year title to the local authority that “demonstrates a level of excellence and innovation that takes its work well beyond basic service provision”.

A panel of esteemed LGC judges said: “Brent has embraced its communities in a celebration of diversity, lifting up the whole borough. The council demonstrates how to convene place and communities – an antidote to today’s fractured society.”

Receiving the award on behalf of the council, Cllr Muhammed Butt, who has been Leader of Brent Council since 2012, said: “This is brilliant recognition for all the hard work officers and councillors put in day in, day out to serve the residents of Brent.

“The challenge of working in local government is ever changing as we respond to crises, central Government funding cuts and the fast changing world around us. Councils are not just here to pick up the bins, we know and love our communities and provide not just a safety net but also a spring board and opportunities for residents to improve their own lives.

“As a Brent boy born and bred, I am hugely proud of how far we have come as a council but there is more to do.

“Brent is the most diverse borough in the most diverse city on earth and this award will only increase our desire to continue improving and Build a Better Brent.”

Brent's highlights are:

COVID-19 response:

  • Personal calls made to 19,000 shielded residents to provide food, physical and mental health and financial support.
  • 19,300 food parcels deliveries to those in need.
  • Established the UK’s first hyperlocal testing centre in Harlesden with 3,217 tests booked through the council’s own telephone line.
  • Residents’ Support Fund worth £2.6m set up to deal with financial hardship created by COVID.
  • Set up emergency accommodation for 336 single homeless people and rough sleepers, and subsequently rehoused 134.
  • Despite having the highest COVID death total per capita in the country, we had the sixth lowest number of care home deaths in London and the capital was low in general.
  • No COVID discharges made into local care homes.
  • Led the way by supplying PPE to care homes ourselves at the start of the pandemic, leading to the West London Alliance PPE system, which led to the London wide PPE system and images of our deliveries even featured as part of the Queen’s COVID address to the nation.
  • Our main hospital, Northwick Park, was the first to declare an emergency and so we immediately built additional mortuary capacity to ensure that every person was treated with dignity in death.

Housing

  • For the second year running, the latest GLA data shows that Brent has more affordable homes under construction than anywhere else in London.
  • 700 council homes are currently being built in Brent – the highest number for any local authority in London – with another 913 in the pipeline.
  • We have reduced the number of households in Temporary Accommodation from 3,500 in 2015 to 2,000 now
  • We have created an award-winning investment company to reduce homelessness which has rehoused 688 children with their families while delivering a gross saving of £1.28m for the council.
  • Later this month, 250 families, currently in temporary accommodation will be moving into the most beautiful council housing in South Kilburn, the standard of which is unparalleled anywhere.
  • Towards the end of October, 153 new key worker flats in Wembley will be available, let by us, across the whole of the public sector
  • And in South Kilburn where we are regenerating, we had the biggest estate regeneration resident ballot in London with a 72% turnout and 84% of people voting in favour.

Education

  • 96% of our schools are judged Good or Outstanding
  • We’ve had no permanent exclusions at primary level in the past year
  • Significant educational improvements have been achieved for Black boys of Caribbean Heritage. The 18/19 data shows at the end of Key Stage 2 there has been a 70% fall in the size of the gap.
  • Children’s Services, the YOS and SEND are all judged Good, with some Outstanding elements

Digital and community

  • We are a leading digital borough that have invested in digital infrastructure and that meant we went seamlessly and overnight to online council services and remote working when COVID hit.
  • As of June 2020, 7,500 full fibre connections had been provided to residential properties.
  • We are the most diverse borough in the UK – 66% BAME – and our staff is equally diverse at 65% BAME. 67% of our Councillors.
  • We have supported 159 community projects with £8.2million of Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy funding.

Environment

  • Our Street Lighting team has replaced all Brent’s street lamps with LED lanterns, reducing carbon emissions by 65% and saving us over £1 million a year.

Awards

  • We have won a number of Council of the Year Awards in 2019-20 including: Parking Team of the Year, the Legal Team of the Year and Young Lawyer of the Year, the ‘Young Local Authority of the Year’ and the RTPI’S Local Authority Planning Team of the Year.

Culture

  • We were chosen as the London Borough of Culture for 2020, beating 21 other boroughs in the process.