Brent Council spends £350k on iPhones while cuts hit vulnerable residents
PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 February 2014
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Council chiefs have splashed out £350,500 on mobile phones for staff while making sweeping cuts across the board affecting some of the most vulnerable residents.
Figures obtained following a Freedom of Information request show Brent Council spent the six figure sum between January 2012 and last month.
The £350,500 sum is a result of the council buying 2,200 iPhones 4s totalling £255,000, 200 iPhones 4s costing £53,000 and 100 iPhone5s at £42,500.
The figures do not include line rental and call costs for each phone which could see the overall costs surge to astronomical figures.
A Brent resident who handed over the figures to the Times said: “Services are being slashed or cut down across the borough they (the council) are using our money like water to buy the latest gadgets.
“I understand some staff might need a phone but an iPhone? What’s wrong with a normal phone that costs under £100? This is a disgrace.”
Eighteen months ago, the Times exclusively revealed the council used £46,000 of taxpayers’ money to buy iPads for all 63 councillors and 14 officers.
Brent Council is planning to make £20million worth of cuts in the next year on top of £100m savings being carried out over four years.
It is proposing to save £4million from adult social care and £3million on services to children and young people.
Sujata Aurora, of Brent Fightback, which lobbies against council cuts, said: “This week the council approved almost £18 million worth of cuts, which will affect Brent’s most vulnerable residents.
“To then be spending such a vast amount on mobile phones suggests that Brent Council has a very warped sense of priorities.”
Casualties of the cuts so far include six library branches, day care centres for people with learning difficulties and a care home for people with dementia.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, confirmed the purchases were made for staff working in the new civic centre and said it would save the town hall £1m over five years in telephony contract bills.
He added: “This supports them in mobile and flexible working and helps Brent Council to be more efficient, cost-effective and deliver the high-quality services residents expect.”
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