Wednesday 9 October 2013

Brent Budget gap points to more cuts unless Councillors say enough is enough

The Brent Executive on Monday will receive the latest 3 year budget forecast which has been revised from that presented in February. The figures assume the Council Tax freeze will continue and a pay inflation of 1% in 2013-14 and 2% thereafter. Allowance is made for restructuring and redundancy costs of £2.6m.

The basic figures:

  2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
  £m £m £m
Budget Gap at Council Feb 2013 20.4 17.1 17.3
Reductions in Revenue Support Grant 2.0 13.0 1.0
Business Rate Top-Up -0.1 -0.4 -0.2
Additional Council Tax Freeze Grants -1.0 -1.1 2.1
Business Rates - share of growth from baseline -1.9 -0.7 -0.6
New Homes Bonus 0.5 2.7 -0.1
Collection Fund Surplus -2.4 2.4  
Council Tax Base -1.3 -0.2 -0.3
Other Grants -1.1 0.8  
Capital Financing  -2.0    
Latest Budget Gap 13.1 33.6 19.2

Clearly more cuts are looming and just in case Councillors get any ideas about refusing to set a budget or raiding the reserves, Mick Bowden, Deputy Director of Finance warns in his report:
A local authority must budget so as to give a reasonable degree of certainty as to the maintenance of its services. In particular, local authorities are required by the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to calculate as part of their overall budget what amounts are appropriate for contingencies and reserves. The Council must ensure sufficient flexibility to avoid going into deficit at any point during the financial year. The Chief Financial Officer is required to report on the robustness of the proposed financial reserves.

 Under the Brent Member Code of Conduct members are required when reaching decisions to have regard to relevant advice from the Chief Finance Officer and the Monitoring Officer. If the Council should fail to set a budget at all or fail to set a lawful budget,contrary to the advice of these two officers there may be a breach of the Code by individual members if it can be demonstrated that they have not had proper regard to the advice given.
I would argue that Labour councillors must consider whether committing a  'a breach of the Code' is more of a crime than implementing cuts that will damage services to the most vulnerable.


Anonymous said...

'Restructuring and redundancy costs of £2.6 million', eh? Now where are they going to get that sort of money from..............Oooh! Hang on a minute: 'Knighted superhead and five former colleagues appear in court charged with £2.7m secondary school fraud
Time for a whip-round, lads?

David Rose said...

May I refer you to an earlier tweet:- Pickles must listen to Sir Merrick Cockell: save local services by ending Local Authority cutbacks: via @guardian