Sunday 14 October 2018

Brent Council austerity cuts to hit the old, the poor, the young & the environment

Monday's Cabinet Meeting will be considering 'savings', known to most of us as 'cuts', of some £20million for 2019/20-2020/21 with cuts totally £40 million expected over the four year term of the current administration.

The Council Tax base (number of households paying the tax) is expected to rise by 2.5% per year and the Council expect to raise Council Tax itself by 4.99% in 2019-20 and 3.99% in 2020-21. At the same time there are proposals to cut Council Tax Support by up to 15% over the period.
The Council's Financial Position
Demographic Pressures

The process following the Cabinet meeting is: 

·      These proposals, together with any changes made by Cabinet, will form the basis of consultation between October 2018 and January 2019 with local residents, businesses and other key stakeholders;
·      The three scrutiny committees will review the budget proposals and report accordingly;
·      In November the General purposes committee will review the calculation of the council tax base; and
·      After consultation, a budget report will be presented for Cabinet to recommend a final budget and council tax to the February 2019 Council meeting.

The Officers' Report states:
The proposals have been categorised as follows:
Appendix A:
Appendix B:
Appendix C:
Appendix D:
A.  Recommended budget proposals that have relatively minor impact on residents, business and other stakeholders. Typically these proposals represent generating additional income, general efficiencies in order to reduce expenditure and transformation programmes in order to deliver services within a reduced budget envelope.
B.  These proposals are considered to be ‘difficult’ in that they will have a direct impact on residents, businesses, the voluntary sector and other key stakeholders. Typically these proposals represent a service reduction or a transformation in the way in which services are delivered.
C.  These proposals are considered to be ‘very difficult’ as they represent a greater reduction in key council services and will have a greater impact on key recipients of council services, including vulnerable clients.
D. These proposals are considered to be the ‘most difficult’ as they represent a significant reduction in key council services, including to the most vulnerable residents in the borough.

Officers’ expectation is that savings of £40m will be needed over the lifetime o f this Administration. The profile of these is broadly balanced, and so officers’ advice is that the Administration should seek to agree savings of at least £20m in order to be able to agree a balanced budget for at least the next two years. However, it is important to note that, on the current funding estimates, significant further savings will need to be agreed at the Council meeting of February 2021. As a result the current working assumptions is that anything not agreed in this budget round may need to be considered again at the point in time, and further options identified.
There are usually some items in the report that the administration  do not intend to implement but where they can claim in not implementing then that they have 'listened' to residents. (Forgive me for my cynicism!)

There are 161 pages on detail on the proposals so I cannot summarise them hear but I have embedded them below.

Headline items that will impact on the old, the young and all residents include
  •  renegotiate adult social care costs to bring them down to the lowest current level (this may mean some agencies will withdraw from bidding),  renegotiate Supported Living and Housing Related Support, and reducing carer visits to 15 minutes.
  •  ending Youth Service provision at the last remaining Youth Centre in Brent, Roundwood
  • reduce the number of Children's Centres from 17 to 8, transforming into Family Hubs ( there is a further option of closing them all)
  • reduction in Early Help Service staffing and increase in fees
  • reduce Connexions Service further
  • reducing Library opening hours and possibly closing one library
  • making 40 full time equivalent Environmental Services staff redundant (producing 'leaner teams' !)
  • ending street cleaning of residential streets (Zone 5) and removing their litter bins
  • reduce the opening hours of Abbey Road Recycling Centre or close it completely
  • reduce or end grants to Brent's voluntary organisations 
Details (click on bottom right square to enlarge):

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