Councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala contacted Brent Fightback to give his apologies for Thursday evening’s meeting, but sent the attached briefing prepared by him and Cllr Muhammed Butt, deputy leader of the Council outlining the probable effects on the people of Brent from the Comprehensive Spending Review.
BRENT: COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW (CSR)
• Brent Council will have 28% cut from its central government grant resulting in a total loss of £65m over the next 4 years
• Some of Brent’s low-income households face being worse off by upto £10,000 per year (based on increase in rents and loss of benefits)
• 41,000 residents will see cuts to their Housing and Council Tax benefit payments
• Freezing of the Sure-Start grant will result in a total funding cut of £1m
• 4.250 Brent 16-19 year olds will lose their Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
• Brent is in the top 20 most income deprived local authorities in the country. It also has the 4th lowest average income levels in London with 16,901 households (16%) having an average annual income of £15,000 or less.
The Chancellor, George Osborne insists there is no alternative to his huge and unnecessary cuts, detailed on Wednesday 20th October to the House of Commons. That is simply not true. The Lib-Con Government’s reckless gamble with growth and jobs runs the risk of stifling the fragile recovery. Labour is committed to halving the deficit over the lifetime of this parliament but this Government is going much faster and much deeper than is necessary.
The CSR was meant to be fair with the Lib-Con Government saying ‘those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.’ However, the £81bn worth of cuts released including significant spending reductions on welfare, housing and education will see some of Brent’s most vulnerable residents impacted on disproportionately.
The full extent of the cuts on Brent will not be properly known until early December when the Local Government Grant is finalised and a more detailed analysis of the CSR has been undertaken.
• New social housing tenants face increase in rent with charges of up to 80% of market rates. The average rent for a three-bedroom social home is around £85 a week. National Housing Federation warns that this could triple to a “staggering” £250 a week, an extra £8,500 per year.
• Council houses for life could also end for new tenants, who might be handed fixed term contracts, under the proposals.
• Brent’s Council Tax benefit budget will be reduced by 10% from April 2013
• Cut of 50% to the social housing budget will severely reduce the supply of affordable housing in Brent. As mentioned, the Government wants to charge rents of up to 80% of the market rate and use the extra funds to make-up the housing shortfall. Brent has 23,000 people on the waiting list. These proposals are likely to add further stress to the borough’s housing situation.
• Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which provides young people from households with incomes of less than £30,000 an incentive to continue in education will be cut. 4,250 Brent youngsters will loose upto £1,100 per academic year.
• Funding for Sure-Start Centres will be reduced by £1m in real terms as the amount received by Brent is frozen for the next 4 years. For 2010/2011 a grant of £10m was given for the programme.
• Schools will only see a 0.1% increase in funding. However, if increased demand is factored in and taking out the previously announced Pupil premium this amounts to an actual cut to the schools budget. Brent has 185 4&5-year olds that do not have a school place for this academic year. This will rise drastically to a cumulative total of 500 by 2015. A government spending cut will only exacerbate one of the borough’s most pressing issues.
• 12% cut to the Education’s non-schools budget. This may involve cuts to areas such as Early Years, support for disabled children as well as grants for free school meals.
• Educational capital spending will be reduced by 60% putting spending on schools maintenance and development at risk.
• Adult-Learning funding to be cut by 25%. BACES (Stonebridge) will lose the ‘Train to Gain’ programme and will have to charge adults the full rate for GCSE/A-Level courses.
• The settlement for local government is a cut of 7.1% for four years. Brent’s budget will be reduced by a total of £65m. This will see every council service area being cut by a minimum 7%. Some areas may have to make further cuts to support priority areas or to continue delivering other key services.
• Capital programme to be cut by 45% (£66m). This will mean less money for building schools, housing and adult social care.
• Majority of cuts in benefits and services will be ‘front-loaded’ and made in the first 2 years (2011/12 & 2012/13).
• Grants from the Department of Transport reduced by 28% which will see less funds available for Streetcare, pavement repairs and gritting.
• Funding for ‘Concessionary Travel’ which pays for 43,000 Brent Pensioners to have the Freedom Pass will be cut by 10%. Brent has already put in an extra £1.5m towards the scheme this year.
• Additional income for Adult Social Care will not respond to the increase in demand for the borough’s services.
• The rate of interest the council can borrow at from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) has been increased by 1% across the board. This will make raising finance for local building and development projects substantially more expensive.