Sunday 4 November 2012

What's happening with Brent's 2013-14 budget?

Brent Expenditure and Income 2012-13

The Council Budget for 2013-14 should be on the agenda for the Full Council Meeting on November 19th according to the Council's budgetary process:
There is a Full Council meeting (usually in November) where the budget is raised as an issue. All Councillors of all political groups are invited to submit ideas, plans and suggestions for inclusion in the next year's budget. These suggestions are then taken away and discussed by the Executive (usually in December).

The Executive will then issue their proposals for the budget.

At the same time Scrutiny's Budget Panel is sitting and they also come up with their proposals by February. The report is considered by the Executive and, if required, changes are made to the proposals.

Finally, the proposals go to another Full Council meeting where they are voted on, and, whatever is agreed, is implemented as the council's budget for the next year.
However, there are reports that the Council is behind with the process this year perhaps as a result of changes in the officer and councillors involved in Finance.  By the second week in November last year Cllr Ann John had issued a 'Bad News' budget report LINK.

Is is likely that we will receive an 'Even More Bad News' report from Muhammed Butt soon. There has been no word from Cllr Ruth Moher, now Lead Member for Finance and Resources who took over the post from Butt following the 'coup'.

Meanwhile the Budget Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 15th November may give us some clues. What is beyond doubt is that with government grants reduced and pressures on council spending from homelessness and social care of the elderly the situation will be dire. Apart from the potential revenue from a rise in Council Tax (a tiny proportion of the overall budget which is mainly made up of government grants) there are few options open to the Council apart from making more cuts which will impact on the vulnerable, or taking a stand against the Coalition and devising a campaigning needs led budget and a consequent deficit budget.  

This would involve a real dialogue with trades unions, voluntary organisations, community groups, campaigning groups and residents. Time is limited and such  process should begin as soon as possible.

Background is provided by the mid-year Brent Treasury Report by Mick Bowden, Deputy Director of Finance. The Director of Finance, Clive Heaphy remains suspended and there is no word on the financial settlement for Gareth Daniel, the former Chief Executive.

The Report outlines theCapital Finance Requirement (CFR) requirements for the years ahead with a significant  increase next year:


 At the same time there is a significant  forecast reduction in 'usable' reserves:

Usable Reserves

There has been a shift from short-term to long-term borrowing which remains under the limits set out by the Department for Communities and Local Government. An additional £20m has been borrowed since April 2012 and a rise in the rate of interest:

Balance on
Debt Repaid
Balance on
Average Rate %


The Report states that the Council expects to recover £4m of the £5m inested in Icelandic domiciled banks and £9m of the £10m invested in non-Iceland domiciled banks. The Council's investment income this year is estimated at only £0.1m .

The full Mid Year Report is available HERE


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