Friday 16 November 2012

'Transformational thinking' response to unfair Coalition budget cuts

In his speech to the Finance Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night, Graham Durham drew attention to the unfairness of the central government cuts imposed on Labour local authorities compared with those run by other political groups.

Over the last 3 years Labour councils have lost an average of £107 per head, Lib Dems £38 and Conservative £36. The highest loss is the London borough of Hackney at £266 and the lowest North Dorset at £2.70.

The figures for Brent was £120.21 per person.

Durham, stating that this was a concerted attack on Labour councils asked councillors , "What job are we doing?"  and answered himself, "We should not be carrying out cuts on behalf of the Coalition posh boys!"

Condemning the council for complying with Coalition policies by sending families to Hastings he reminded Cllr Helga Gladbaum that she was once one of the councillors who alongside him had fought against making cuts.

He concluded by arguing that a Labour Council should not do this to the people of Brent and instead should set a needs budget.

Isabel Counihan was given her first opportunity to address councillors about the light of her family. She described the background to her family losing their housing in Brent and the impact of localised payments of Housing Benefit.  The family had launched a campaign which had received widespread community support.

She said that her family were one of thousands of homeless families in the borough and asked how the council could justify spending £102m on a Civic Centre in these circumstances. Isabel described how there had been another attempt to evict the family from their temporary accommodation where they could not afford the rent. At the same time she claimed that social services had threatened to take her five children into care. She had told them how expensive that would be, particularly a some would need special needs support,  compared with helping them with their rent.

Isabel Counihan concluded by saying that Brent had got its priorities wrong and backed calls for them to set a needs budget.  She invited councillors to join the Counihan Family March on December 1st.

After the deputations there was a presentation by Allison Elliott on the Adult Social Care budget. She claimed that the council, through a West London Alliance procurement had not 'reduced the service but had reduced the costs'. However she said that the reduction in costs could not be sustained and that there would be a budget gap of £6.87m in 2014/15 if nothing was done.  She said that the council would have to think differently in order to reduce the budget and that this would require 'transformational thinking' - which drew 'You mean cuts!'  and 'What's going to happen to the old people' from the audience.

There were sharp exchanges between Graham Durham and the chair of the committee, Alison Hopkins (Lib Dem) over the availability of committee documents for the public. At one point the police were called into to remove Durham when he protested  but Hopkins managed to procure some copies of the documents for the public.  However police were called again when Graham Durham asked questions from the floor about the council budget, claiming that councillors were failing to ask challenging questions of Mick Bowden, or the council leader or deputy who were present. He demanded, 'You are here to scrutinise - do your job!'. Five police officers and CPOs remained in the public seats for the rest of the meeting which worked out at about one for each member of the public present,

1 comment:

Trevor said...

again I say what do you expect?
when you have a bunch of wicked hypocrites behind the wheel of government that will misuse their authority putting profit before principle that leads to 106,000 people dying from a preventable disease all because the government wanted to ensure that they get their tax revenue which then adds more problems because the cost of treating people with ruined health caused from smoking runs into billions of pound each year, isn't it right to expect there will be major problems ahead?
also when the same hypocrites were found guilty of misusing their expenses system cheating the taxpayers out of £1000's upon £1000,s of pounds while imposing severe cuts that cause immense hardship on the most vulnerable people in this borough and country, what does that say about the government?
doesn't it Scream Hypocrisy and double standards?
it was fine for them to cheat before they started imposing these cuts, and they expect people to supposedly view them as a government attempting to "balance the Books"?
this is why I now view Politicians as Crooks in suits that strut around trying to appear important when they are in reality Crooked and hypocritical beyond belief.
just as illusions are currently being shattered in the world of celebrities, it is high time we took off the rose tinted glasses and never allow ourselves to be fooled by hypocritical politicians.