Brent Council leader grills government minister over funding cuts

Cllr Muhammed Butt, left, and MP Kris Hopkins (pic credit: PA)

Cllr Muhammed Butt, left, and MP Kris Hopkins (pic credit: PA) - Credit: Archant

The leader of Brent Council grilled a government minister over cuts to their funding which has left the town hall with a £54million financial blackhole.

Cllr Muhammed Butt and his deputy Cllr Michael Pavey, met Kris Hopkins, the Local Government Minister at his office in Bressenden Place this week to ask why the money given to the council to pay for local services in Brent is being slashed so severely.

Brent Council has to find savings of £54million over the next two years and on its list of cuts are all youth services in the borough, a day centre for disabled residents, one of three council run sports centres, some children’s centres and a host of other jobs and services.

Cllr Butt said: “We only had half an hour so we made a point about using the ‘spending power’ as a way of projecting the figures – it puts everything in there, education, NHS, everything, and it’s not a true reflection of the money we spend in the borough. We are being disproportionally impacted. We wanted him to acknowledge that fact.”

He added: “If they used the figures of core government funding that they give local authorities we can demonstrate we’ve lost a third of our funding. But when they start mixing things up, adding more things in there, the percentage cut looks smaller.

“Once you take into account what they are cutting to local government it’s more like a 30 per cent cut. It’s confusing everyone and they’re putting the blame on local government.

“He (Mr Hopkins) said is as a junior minister he needs to look at what he can do meaning that nothing’s going to change.”

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Mr Hopkins told the Times the government is delivering a fair settlement to all local authorities including Brent.

He added: “Brent has a spending power of £2,511 per household compared to the national average of £2,193. In fact, so far over this Parliament, Brent’s Council spending net current expenditure, excluding education, has actually increased in cash terms.”

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