Sunday, 12 October 2014

The funding crisis facing Brent Council

The current round of Brent Connects forums (this week there is one for Wembley on Tuesday (see side bar for details) will hear a presentation about the Borough plan.  That plan will incorporate a worsening financial situation for the borough over the next 4 years which seems unlikely to be mitigated by any change of government.

This is the budget cycle for the 2015-16 budget:
The Council Tax Base shows a slight increase due to increased population and more properties being built in the borough. Additionally more people are paying Council Tax after the Council Tax Support changes. However Central Government funding of local authorities continues to reduce. New Social Care legislation which caps the amount people pay and a reduction in parking charges revenue also affect the picture.


The overall impact is a reduction in funding of £50 by 2018-19:

It is also likely that changes in education funding nationally will see a decrease in London, and of course Brent, after 2015 with some envisaging school budget cuts of 12%.

The report LINK going to the Cabinet tomorrow contains the usual structures on legality:
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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.
This is the source of the claim, likely to be heard at Brent Connects, that the Council has no alternative but to administer Coalition cuts.


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much did they waste to buy into this multi-borough One Oracle financials? It has taken us backwards not forwards, a total waste of money the fact that the other boroughs were not as advanced as us should have been a sign for Brent to say this is not for us. I don't hold much hope of them managing any budget correctly.

Unknown said...

The Council they could save money by not awarding themselves a 25% pay rise when everyone else is struggling with 1%, not appealing aginst industrial tribunal disicion funded by taxpayers and not paying consultants £700 per day for starters

Claudia Hector said...

As a councillor I have not received a pay rise. The number of positions that attract special allowances have gone down in number and pay. The money I lost from that is equalled by the extra basic allowance.

It works out worse than the minimum wage given the number of hours we put in.

Anonymous said...

So if that's the case, how come the overall allowance bill has increased by £127k?

Perhaps you do put in the hours, but most of your colleagues don't. On minimum wage, it needs to be well over a hundred hours a month.

Shafique Choudhary said...

Pay rise? Councilors are employees of Brent Council, so it is No. Allowances have increased and this increment has been achieved by amalgamation of travelling and lodging allowances and others into one. Perhaps Anonymous does not understand how many hours a councilor is spending in a typical day. Let me try to tell him, starting on computer 9.30am to 5 Pm dealing with mail, emails, telephone calls, contacting council offices on behalf of residents. Also finding time and taking up cases to council official for discussion their days and days out, Evenings are full with committee meetings and trainings. Saturdays normally passes dealing with face to face meetings and surgeries work. Sunday’s distribution party and other published material to residents and campaigning. They are literally employed 24/7, I have not missed civic duties where local councilor presence is must.
So please you have a Bargain.

Anonymous said...

Hm. When I was a councillor, there was no travelling or lodging allowance, and I never received any. It is also not true that councillors are employees of Brent: if they were, they'd be entitled to sick pay, have a contract, pension and much more. They are elected members.

I too spent many hours on case work, and I still do. I tended to avoid committee membership, as it acheived little or nothing, although the two I chaired were useful.

Party campaigning and leaflet distribution in NO WAY should be paid for from public funds!

I know Shaifique well and I know he works very hard for residents. I'm afraid that isn't universal.

Alison Hopkins

Anonymous said...

Good to hear he works hard. A bit worrying that he thinks he's a council employee, however. Hope it doesn't affect his judgement when it comes to voting.

Martin Francis said...

If he thinks of himself as an employee, the obvious question is 'Who does he think is his boss?' Answers below please....

Anonymous said...

Of course if a Councillor doesn't work hard then residents can kick them out - like they did to Alison Hopkins

Martin Francis said...

Putting party allegiances aside, there are clearly differences between councillors in how much casework they do. Some have privately moaned to me about having to carry the bulk of casework because their ward colleagues are inefficient or plain lazy.

Alison is one with a good reputation for casework as a community activist councillor before being elected, when she was a councillor, and since being voted out on the general anti-Lib Dem tide.

Anonymous said...

Ooh er who twisted you knickers mate!
Alison is one of the good guys she worked hard when a Councillor and now when not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Martin. Very much appreciated.

Alison

Anonymous said...

Thank you - it genuinely really does mean a great deal when people say things like that.

Alison

Anonymous said...

Mr Choudary, you seem to have forgotten that you chose to run for public office, stop whingeing, very few councillors 'put in the hours', be real, how come you weren't on here speaking out about the injustice meted out to Rosemarie Clarke. Most councillors have a main job, being a councillor is for people who want to make a huge difference to quality of life for people in your local area. We don't want to hear you whingeing about your travelling and lodging allowances, Brent Council staff doing the donkey work don't get that.

Anonymous said...

Cara Davani 12:24

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you've realised you've been kicked out Alison, since you've still recently referred to "my residents" - when you don't actually have any.

Anonymous said...

All those hours sound terribly exhausting Shafique. It certainly explains why you're so tired you fall asleep during council meetings

Nan Tewari said...

I don't know Cllr Choudhary, however is sounds as though he might be one of the toilers. I do remember from my days as a council employee dealing with MPs' and Members' (Councillors) enquiries, that there was considerable variation in the amount of work put in by elected representatives.

It is somewhat unfortunate that the comment deals only with councillors' pay and rations and that Cllr Choudhary did not feel sufficiently moved to make any observation on the Rosemarie Clarke matter.

It would be interesting to know whether councillors have been gagged by Ledden and Gilbert using the standard excuse the matter is sub judice.

Anonymous said...

00:04 You sound like a current councillor, Alison didn't lose her seat because of anything she had done, the same you didn't win yours because of your good work, most of you won by default. Why aren't you using your voice to speak out about the bullying being meted out to Brent staff on a daily basis, there you go, do some work for your money for a change.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Vindictive bullies like 00.04 give trolls a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Anon 20:33 and 23:17 - thank you very much! I tend to rather ignore those who live under bridges and fear sunlight. ;) I've a shrewd and fairly provable idea who 00:04 is, and you're not far off - a tad too close to Davani I think.

Alison

Anonymous said...

you are shameless. It is disgusting that the Labour scum have helped themselves to a 25% pay rise. Shame on you people.

Anonymous said...

It is a disgrace that they have taken a 25% pay rise. Labour will take as much as they want from the poor in Brent and they know the stupid people will still vote for them. Do not vote for these people.The head of personnel at Brent steals from the oyster card and keeps her job.
People in Brent need to wake up. We are all in it together.