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View from the council: Council tax rise will secure vital services in borough

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 March 2018

Archant

February marked another whirlwind month for Brent. Prince Harry followed in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge in visiting the borough and earlier this week, the council budget for 2018/19 was agreed.

Another year and another need to balance the books in the face of rising demand and less money to go around. A difficult task faced by councils up and down the country, with Brent as no exception.

When deciding the budget for the year ahead, councillors were adamant that it should help secure and save services across Brent, especially for the most vulnerable who count on them the most.

That’s why the budget includes a council tax exemption for care leavers under the age of 25, who may need some time to get on their feet in the transition between leaving care and becoming fully independent.

The budget also includes money to secure services such as adult social care, so that we can meet the growing demands of an aging population.

To help pay for this growing demand, while the funding from central Government is falling, the council has agreed a 4.99 per cent council tax rise, in line with many councils in England who are determined to protect vital frontline services.

Of this rise, 2pc will be set aside for adult social care. The rest will help the council to balance its budget, including funding the council tax exemption for care leavers, as well as providing transport for children with special educational needs.

But this is just one part of making sure that Brent remains a great place to live and work.

Community safety is at the heart of our priorities, with the council paying for 12 extra police officers to tackle issues residents have told us they want prioritised, including tackling violent crime and antisocial behaviour. Thousands of new homes are being built across Brent every year and 96pc of our schools are rated by Ofsted as being “Good” or “Outstanding”. One of our very own teachers has just made the global top ten list of teaching talent and we’re working hard to keep roads in good condition, filling or repairing 2,209 potholes in the past year.

I am also truly grateful for residents who continue to do the right thing. 121,000 households recycle regularly, 40,000 people have signed up for council tax services online through “My Account” on www.brent.gov.uk, 21,000 residents have downloaded the Cleaner Brent app to report illegally dumped rubbish and other issues on our streets and 60,000 households pay council tax through direct debit.

Every one of these simple actions helps make Brent a better place to live and work and by working together we can ensure the future is bright despite the challenges we face.

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