Monday 1 February 2016

Where do Fryent councillors stand on Council Tax Support Scheme Review?

There's a Brent Connects meeting in Willesden tonight where there will be a 'consultation' on the Brent Council budget despite the fact that the budget proposals going to Cabinet have already been written and appear on its agenda.

We now know that this proposes a Council Tax increase increase of 3.99% year on year for 3 years.

Cllr Duffy appeared to be very much in the minority in wanting to raise Council Tax by 1.99%  in 2015 but I notice on the Fryent Councillors' blog that they now claim to have argued for an increase: LINK:
Brent Council tax has been frozen for the last 6 years - no increase since 2009.
Your Fryent Councillors have argued for an increase in previous years because our base budget is years out of date. The Government has given the Council 1% in the past to freeze Council tax but this has not kept pace with funding additional or even existing services.
This is not an easy decision, we realise that it will impact some residents adversely. The Council will have to review its Council Tax support scheme to protect the most vulnerable residents. The Council will still have to make cuts and make huge savings because of continued Government austerity measures.
So why should Council Tax increase? Any public service has to be paid for - if the Government reduces the grant it previously gave to the Council the money has to come from somewhere. Brent has cut £145 million from its budget - this is money the government has taken away from Brent residents over the last 4/5 years. Brent has made efficiencies, transformed services, shared services with other boroughs, cut jobs and some services and increased and added new charges, the payment for collecting Green waste , is an example. The cuts are so severe that the Council is now faced with cutting services which will adversely affect people lives, particularly the elderly housebound, residents with a disability, and environmental services such as street cleaning and repairing pot holes.
I didn't notice them arguing for an increase last year and seem to remember a passionate speech by Cllr Tatler on the impact an increase would make on the poorest pupils in her school.  

In the second paragraph they imply that the Council will have to review the Council Tax Support Scheme if they put up Council Tax but their leader Muhammed Butt told me at the Civic Centre Consultation that this would not be possible for the 2016-17 financial year.

Scrutiny Committee had argued both for an Council tax increase and for a review of the Council Tax Support Scheme to protect those on lowest incomes.

There are no proposals for a review in the Cabinet papers although improvements in the scheme would address the issues Cllr Tatler raised last year.

Where do the Fryent councillors stand on this?

1 comment:

Philip Grant said...

As a Fryent Ward resident, I wrote to my three Councillors in January 2015, arguing that Brent should increase its Council Tax by 1.99%, and inviting their support for this view. I received replies from all three councillors, and although I will not quote them directly, without their permission, I can say that Cllr. George Crane was personally in favour of an increase, while Cllr. Ruth Moher and Cllr. Shama Tatler appeared to be against.

All three councillors expressed concern for those residents least able to afford an increase, and they all also promised that there would be robust debate with their colleagues before any decision was taken on whether to increase Council Tax. As we subsequently found out, that robust debate did not get anywhere, because Cllr. Butt had already decided that Brent would continue its Council Tax freeze, despite the damage this would cause to Brent's long term financial base.