Monday 15 May 2023

Brent Labour Group's campaign 'war chest'

It was interesting to see the Brent Labour Group accounts for 2022, local election year, that were presented at the recent AGM.  The accounts are straight-forward and there is nothing 'dodgy' in them as far as I can see but they do have implications for local democracy.

Most elected councillors, from whatever political party, pay a contribution from their allowance (not 'pay') to their party. In 2022 that contribution by Brent Labour councillors totalled c£95,000 while campaigning costs in election year were slightly higher at c£98,000.

The basic councillor allowance is not huge but can be built up with additional allowances for chairing committes, Brent Connects etc as well as special allowances for the leader and cabinet membership.

There is an unfortunate side effect of this in that there is an incentive to maximise the Labour Group income by awarding as many such positions to Labour councillors as possible.  Hence the failure of opposition moves early in the new administration to appoint Scrutiny Committee chairs from the opposition benches. Such appointment may be good for local democracy but not good for the coffers...

There is also an incentive, within the limited overall budget of more than £1m annually, to create additional positions that carry an allowance. 

Over the 4 year period of the current administration the total accrued to Labour Group funds will be c£380,000.  This is a significant fund and gives Labour a distinct advantage over other local parties for campaigning at the next election although there are statutory limits to such expenditure.  As long as Labour gains election success an in-year loss in election year can be more than recovered.

A further issue suggested by Labour insiders is that because most additional appointments are made by the Leader rather than elected by the group, it gives him/her considerable control over the current and potential financial well-being of members. Displeasing the leader may mean little chance of achieving a position in the adminstration that carries an additional allowance.

NOTE - the 2023-24 appointments are on the Agenda for the Brent Council AGM on Wednesday 17th May but details have not yet been published in the Appendices. The General Purpose Committee consists of Cabinet members plus one opposition councillor.


Anonymous said...

I wish Wembley Matters gave some credit to the Labour Group's commitment to Open Government.

I think it is highly commendable of Councillor Butt, Leader of the Labour Group, to allow the publication of the Labour Group Accounts.

The large amount of money generated by the Labour Group (thanks to local taxpayers contributions) clearly shows that Brent Council finances are in safe hands.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 23:06 Well that's your opinion, but it ain't shared by the residents of Brent is it?

Anonymous said...

Is it irony or a bit cheekiness from Anon 1?

The Labour Group keeps its Accounts secret.

They would hardly want local taxpayers to be aware that almost £100,000 a year of the allowance budget goes to pay for Labour Party Campaigning.

After all they already spend tens of thousands of our money on the Brent Magazine Labour propaganda machine.

Thanks to Martin for publishing - as good to know what some of our money is used for.

Anonymous said...

The first thing Butt did when Labour won a big majority on Brent Council in 2014 was to raise members allowances by 25%.

He said it was necessary to attract good quality councillors.

He didnt say that it was to increse his party funds by 25%!!!