From the council: There are plenty of reasons to avoid council tax hike
PUBLISHED: 08:34 10 February 2018
The annual Brent budget consultation is with us again, and again Cllr Butt goes through the motions of a public relations exercise rather than a genuine consultation!
Indeed,he told us last year that he would be proposing a 3.99per cent rise for 2018/19, but now it is suddenly 4.99pc. How arrogant is that?
The rise will mean that this Labour council will have increased council tax by 13pc since the May 2014 local elections. It is totally unnecessary. Brent Council receives monies from government under a variety of headings, all of which Cllr Butt totally ignores. His figures are very misleading. For example, Brent receives New Homes Bonus - which is a significant grant generating more than £50 to £60m.
What about the Public Health Grant, which totalled £22m just in 2017/18? Perhaps, I could also mention the additional £12m. for adult social care given by government last year!
Surely, the essence of consultation is to show balance in the questions asked - rather than the hysterical outburst that we get in the consultation document. Lets ask questions such as - should we spend an annual £1m on press and communications (which includes the Brent Magazine)? Should we spend an annual £1m on the “Business Intelligence Unit”? How much should the council set aside in provisions for “rainy days“- it was £3.5m for 2017/18? Should the council have used £1m of this £3.5m to fund the Tricycle Theatre refurbishment (after the theatre had received £6m from other sources)? Should they spend more monies on our pavements and footways, or is it right to hoard monies to maintain Brent‘s record bank balances? Should they take a more realistic view of its income streams (council tax/business rates) from the mass of buildings going up weekly around Wembley Stadium, rather than the incredibly negative view that the council takes when including figures in its budget?
Instead of a 4.99pc increase in council tax (equivalent to raising £5m) should the council put £5m from New Homes Bonus in the revenue budget as Brent used to - so as to have a Council Tax freeze - rather than build up the NHB in the capital budget?
Brent will receive £9m in NHB in 2018/19. Brent Council should freeze its Council tax for 2017/18, and it can easily be done with no compensatory savings needed - just use New Homes Bonus.
Brent consistently underspends its capital budget - most recently by £100m, so the NHB will hardly be missed in the capital budget.
Brent has taken creative accounting to a new level, so please Cllr Butt stop hoodwinking residents with all your doom and gloom...let’s agree on a Council tax freeze at the very least!