Protecting local services is the top priority for Brent, the council leader has said, as a plan to get residents' views on a draft set of budget proposals for the next two years is set to be discussed.
Brent Council's Cabinet will meet on Monday 24 October to consider a paper which includes a proposal to protect local services by increasing council tax by 3.99 per cent - or 85p a week for an average Band D household.
The report sets out how councils are still in an era of austerity and are facing further cuts in Government funding despite growing demand for local services from an increasing and ageing population. The paper also includes some savings proposals although these are relatively small compared to recent council budgets.
Last year was the first year council tax had risen in Brent for six years after successive freezes despite Government funding being slashed by £117million since 2010.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said:
"Imagine your household bills went up every year, but your salary kept being cut. You would have to make some tough choices and find new ways to make your money go further.
"That's what this council has been doing in finding new, more efficient ways to maintain and improve the services that we all need, but it has also meant making some very difficult decisions.
"We know how important our local services are to the people of Brent which is why, rather than cutting back on those vital services, the option of raising income through a small council tax increase to protect these services is being considered.
"The choice we face in Brent is this: will we pay a bit extra each month to keep our services available to those who need them, or will we let the Government's cuts to our budget further limit the services we can provide?"
In addition to the proposal on council tax, the paper includes proposals to:
- Help residents with low-level nursing care needs to live independently, which will improve their quality of life and save £300,000
- Negotiate a £500,000 reduction in spending on contracts with mental health service providers
- Outsourcing the management of two day care centres in the borough to save £300,000
- Negotiate a £900,000 saving in the public realm contract with Veolia
- Charging for a next-day and 'pick your day' bulky waste collection service, generating £250,000 each year
- Consult on saving £100,000 in the Regulatory Services team through a reorganisation
- Participation in the London wide sexual health transformation programme to achieve better services while saving £600,000 over the next two years
- Consultation on plans for differential parking charges to help manage pressure for spaces in high demand areas - £1million
- Dim street lights where appropriate which would save £100,000 and benefit the environment
Cllr Butt added:
"As a Cabinet, we will discuss the draft proposals set out in the report at our next meeting and, if approved, will then put them to residents to have their say in a detailed budget consultation."
The budget consultation is set to run from November to December with a series of public meetings arranged for January. A final decision on the budget will be taken by Full Council in February 2017.
View the full Cabinet report here.