Brent Council approves budget with council tax increases and cuts


Brent cabinet councillors approve budget that will see council tax increases and cuts - Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Brent Council looks set to raise council tax by 4.99 per cent after its budget was approved by its cabinet.

Senior councillors backed the proposals for the 12 months from April after acknowledging “tough decisions” had to be made in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, at a meeting on Monday (February 8).

These include a proposed council tax increase of 4.99 per cent, with three per cent ringfenced for social care, and cuts of £3.4 million.

Several roles at the council will be cut to contribute to this, while some children’s services will be integrated with those offered by health providers.

The delivery of customer services will also be reviewed – saving an additional £75,000 – though there are plans to retain the four hours a day, five days a week front desk at the civic centre.

Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt criticised the government over a lack of funding for local authorities and suggested it had shifted responsibilities onto councils for another year.

However, he said the council had done as much as possible to present an achievable budget with as little damage as possible given the circumstances.

He said: “We are doing everything we can to protect our residents and ensure people have the support they need.

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“It’s been a difficult process, but we have managed to do what we need to do for our residents.”

His call for greater support from central government was supported by Cllr Neil Nerva, who is responsible for public health, culture, and leisure, and who criticised the short-term constraints placed on councils.

“We are again working with a one-year timeline,” he said.

“What other multi-million-pound organisation would work on a year-to-year basis? We need a long-term commitment from national government.”

He added local authorities have shown their ability to work most effectively with communities at a time of crisis during the pandemic and urged ministers to “recognise” this in the future when it comes to allocating funds.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, who is responsible for housing and welfare reform at Brent Council, agreed the council is facing a challenging period but suggested this budget showed “signs of a tentative recovery” and laid “foundations” of support for residents.

The proposals will be put to the full council meeting on February 22, which can be viewed on the council’s website at 6pm.