Tuesday 1 November 2022

London boroughs in 2023-24 will face the most challenging financial outlook they have experienced since 2010. Tough choices ahead.

A Parliamentary Briefing by London Councils ('The Voice of London Local Government') sets out in stark terms the choices (or lack of them) that local council, including Brent, will be facing next financial year:

London boroughs have suffered from chronic underfunding for far too long. Boroughs’ overall resources are now 22% lower in real terms than in 2010 – even though there are now 10% more Londoners (almost 800,000) to serve.

The Covid-19 pandemic added £3 billion of financial pressures to London boroughs in 2020-21 and 2021-22 but these were largely funded by national government. However, the high demand pressures in many services haven’t subsided, especially within homelessness, services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, children’s social care, and – most significantly – in adult social care. The impact of long covid, interaction with the huge NHS backlog, and increasing delayed transfers into adult social care, is leading to overspending.

Outer London boroughs, as the lowest funded authorities per capita in the country, have particularly few resources to alleviate these growing pressures.

Rising inflation and cost-of-living pressures

The energy crisis, soaring inflation, the increase in the National Living Wage and cost-of-living pressures on residents have added huge additional financial pressures to London boroughs’ budgets.

Despite the 7% increase in core spending power from the 2022-23 local government finance settlement, London boroughs need to make up to £400 million of savings this year.

That funding gap will almost double to more than £700 million next year (2023-24), based on the plans set out by the government’s most recent Spending Review. The scale of the challenge is colossal.

For context, £700 million is equivalent to:

  • What London boroughs spend in total on public health each year (£703m)
  • More than London boroughs spend on homelessness and housing services (£615m)
  • Retrofitting 27,000 homes to help achieve London’s net zero goal
  • Delivering 46,000 apprenticeships to boost young Londoners’ skills and employment opportunities
  • A year of care for 64,000 Londoners in nursing homes.

Local authorities are highly dependent on central government funding. There is no realistic way that boroughs could currently raise the £700 million through other means. If boroughs were to try raising the £700 million from London’s council taxpayers, council tax bills would need to rise by around 18%. Without a significant increase in funding, a further £700 million will be required in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

In total, the forecast funding gap is £2.4 billion over the next four years – which is almost £1 billion higher than London boroughs were planning for a year ago. This is the most challenging outlook boroughs have faced since 2010. Any further cuts to council funding will make the situation even tougher.

Difficult decisions for London boroughs

There is no painless way for London boroughs to make savings on the scale required. Any low hanging fruit and basic efficiencies are long gone. Staff numbers have been reduced by a third (80,000) since 2010. Many boroughs have delivered significant transformational programmes, which can only be done once.

London boroughs have worked hard to protect their budgets, but many now face the prospect of having to make severe cutbacks to vital services including bin collections and filling potholes, social care for adults and children, support for low-income households and preventing homelessness.

To deal with this challenge, boroughs are now starting to discuss some incredibly tough choices which they haven’t had to do before. These include:

  • Cutting back adults and children’s social care packages to the statutory minimum 
  • Cutting back community safety and domestic violence to the statutory minimum 
  • Cutting back homelessness services to the statutory minimum 
  • Cutting voluntary sector funding 
  • Cutting back youth services 
  • Withdrawal from the delivery of adult social care day services  
  • Withdrawal from the delivery of leisure services  
  • Reductions in Home to School transport 
  • Turning off street lighting 
  • Less frequent waste collection
  • Less frequent street cleansing
  • Reducing public health support on obesity, and smoking cessation
  • Increasing parking charges
  • Significant asset rationalisation

How the government can help to protect local services

Cuts to council services will damage our communities. However, they will also undermine the government’s ambitions to boost economic growth, level up the country, and help residents through the cost-of-living crisis.

The pandemic showed what London boroughs could do when adequately funded and given the powers to deliver more for our residents. We need the same partnership approach between central and local government for tackling cost-of-living pressures.

We’re therefore asking for local government to be protected from further cuts by increasing business rates and grant funding in line with inflation next year. The government must stick to the funding plans set out in the Spending Review at the very least, rather than make any further reductions to council budgets.

Boroughs desperately need more certainty over longer-term funding to ensure public money is spent well. Despite the three-year Spending Review, local government only had a one-year settlement (effectively for the fourth year in succession), and there continues to be no clarity about plans for wider reforms to local government funding.

We’re asking for the government to confirm a two-year local government finance settlement and publish it as soon as possible.

Amy Leppänen, Parliamentary Officer


Anonymous said...

Your Brent Councillors cost you all over a million pounds a year, some take home £40-50+k a year, the basic allowance is currently £12,014pa, then there are the SRA's the 2018 figures are below. Check the Brent website if you don't believe. A lot of the Councillors (or their families) are also Private Landlords.

1.Leader of the Council = £39,748
2.Deputy Leader of the Council = £28,968
3.Other Cabinet Members = £19,087
4. Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee = £14,281
5. Chair of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee = £14,281
6. Chair of the Housing Scrutiny Committee = £14,281
7. Chair of the Planning Committee = £14,281
8. Members of the Planning Committee = £2,177
9. Chair of the Audit and Standards Committee (Vice-Chair of the Audit and Standards Advisory Committee) = £1,500
10. Chairs of the Brent Connects Area Consultative Forums = £1,250
11. Chair of the Licensing Committee = £3,234
12. Members of the Licensing Committee = £1,000
13. Member of the Adoption and Permanency Panel = £3,234
14. Member of the Fostering Panel = £3,234
15. Leader of the Principal Opposition Group* = £6,000
16. Group Whip for the majority group with over 50% of councillors = £4,000
17. Mayor = £7,141
18. Deputy Mayor = £3,234

Anonymous said...


David Walton said...

Where are the Kilburn councillors on the proposed destruction bit-by-bit start on South Kilburn Public Open Space, Brent Kilburn's only surviving park-scale park?

We pay for their absolute silence.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Deputy Leader is working full time for Brent.

Circa £29k plus £12k basic allowance is not a bad income, especially if she's still running David Lammy's office at Westminster as well!!!

Anonymous said...

Plus they get so many freebies particularly football and concert tickets - the decent thing would be to pass these freebies onto residents who can't afford to go to such events - see Cllr Mo Butts declarations here...

Anonymous said...

South Kilburn is a lesson in how not to do regeneration. The sense of community is being destroyed. Which open space are they trying to build on? Surely they are not trying to build on the plague burial site again in the square area where the 32 bus stands!

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if Brent Council have a plan? Oh, yes of course, missuse of CIL funds and tell everyone how wonderful Butt's little cabal is and how they are building Council home (at private rental rates). People see through this, but who else can they vote for? Time for the Green's perhaps?

David Walton said...

No, it's not the plague pit at Cambridge Gardens, that would be sacrilege and we haven't quite got to that phase yet even in SK!

For grey growth is 50-year-old South Kilburn Public Open Space destruction bit by bit (a likely 10-year process?). Below is some local/ policy/ planning context. For Brent's fairy tale to total mislead local people see the 10 Brent boards as posted in WM.

South Kilburn Grey Growth Zone developer colonial park-take maneuverings in 'regeneration' year 21- Are we ready?

Brent October 2022 proposes building on the woodland area of 50-year-old South Kilburn Public Open Space, Brent Kilburn's only surviving park-scale park.

www.brent.gov.uk/business/regeneration/growth-areas/south-kilburn-regeneration/development-projects/masefield-house-wordsworh-house-dickens-house masefieldwordswothdickens.co.uk

South Kilburn Public Open Space was defended by locals, officers and councillors from being developer built on in 1999; at that time destroying this Kilburn local park was by Brent Council's leader declared to be "not in the public interest."

In 2001 South Kilburn won a New Deal for Communities bid and spent £3 million on a 3-year professional area-by-area neighbourhood consultation to produce the 2004 final South Kilburn Masterplan. This plan protected, expanded and invested in South Kilburn Public Open Space as the key neighbourhood green amenity and to support its 7 holistic local people's lives focused regeneration themes.

In the 2010 Brent Local Plan, South Kilburn was re-designated a Growth Area. In Whitehall, policy had changed to declare all English social housing estates brownfields for re-development, a wild opaque land dealing business then started.

In 2012 at City Hall, the London Plan Green Infrastructure and Open Environments; All London Green Grid major policy change excluded South Kilburn (quintupling its population towards 2041) from London's Green Growth Infrastructure Policy Framework and in doing so also excluded SK from 34 other London Plan green growth linked policies which would have mitigated at least some of this regenerations perma crisis of coloniser land war trauma forced on local people.

In 2017 Brent cancelled the neighbourhood-led Masterplan of 2004 in favour of a new 'fluid' land business massive mono grey growth zoned-siloed owner's plan. 2021 Kilburn experienced major floodings. 2022 entire South Kilburn many brownfield 'sites' was council re-designated as a Tall Building Zone in Brent Local Plan.

A social estate built on sand; Brent owner has always un-protected South Kilburn Public Open Space, 'land bank' registered at the Land Registry as 46 separate Victorian absolute freehold/map houses from before this Green Levelling Up park was built 50 years ago. For owner-developers post 2010 opaque public land dealings, Brent's Kilburn's Park never existed and nor do the community (NDC) legal established rights of 12,000 (being forever grown) car-free flatted locals who rely on this park for their daily health, wellbeing, flood defence and access to nature needs.
Brent proposes to local people that after destroying this parks woodland area, it will park invest and expand sometime in a 'later' phase, this in direct contradiction with City Hall/Governments mono Grey Growth Zone policy, it's as landowner never registering this local park land use at the Land Registry and developers understanding this zone as mono-maximalist-extreme colonial housing game.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Martin

I copy and paste here an article link with reference to Special Educational Needs & Disabilities:
SEND system is ‘creaking and ripe for reform’, says Ofsted:
By John Pring [of Disability News Service] on 15th December 2022 Category: Education
'The special educational needs and disability (SEND) system is “creaking and ripe for long-promised reform”, according to the annual report of the education watchdog Ofsted.

'Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of education, children’s services and skills, warned in her annual report on education and children’s care that many children who fell behind during the pandemic had been wrongly labelled with SEND, which was “not right for them”.

'She said this has “put an unnecessary burden on the system”, which was already struggling with delays for assessments for disabled children and young people’s education, health and care plans (EHCPs).'

Meanwhile, Disability News Service reports regarding Labour Party and disability issues:
Frustration with Labour resurfaces at TUC disabled workers’ event.

Comment supplied by Alan Wheatley