Brent Council pays out thousands to magazine publishers while making �100m worth of cuts

Freedom of Information request reveals �40,000 spent on GovNet

Brent Council has paid thousands of pounds to a magazine publisher which prints public sector news – despite having to make millions of pounds of cuts.

A recent Freedom of Information request reveals the council paid nearly �3,000 in the financial year 2010 to 2011 to a company called GovNet which publishes public sector magazines and organises conferences.

A staggering �27,900 was also paid to a think tank organisation called Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) during the same period.

Pete Firmin, chairman of campaign group Brent Fightback, said: “You would have thought there were sufficient resources in-house to sort out policies rather than spend this money.

“There should be people with brainpower in the council. What are the top earners at the council being paid for? Brent Council also has a history of paying large sums to consultants. When it is getting rid of 700 members of staff but paying outside bodies, it seriously is questionable.”

The council defended the �30,000 spend by saying the LGiU is used by nearly all local authorities. According to the council it provides regular briefings on the implications of policy changes and membership is cost effective.

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The council also says it uses GovNet for training events by council staff. Between 2008 and 2011, more than �40,000 has been paid collectively to the two companies.

However, it is feared more cuts are on the way and it is predicted the council will have an overspend of �1.8 million by the end of the financial year.

The authority has already closed half of the borough’s libraries, day care centres for people with learning difficulties and a care home for people with dementia.

A council spokesman said: “The services LGIU and GovNet provide are essential and very good value for money, which is why almost every local authority in the UK uses them.”

“It would cost Brent much more in time and money if we tried to do it all ourselves.”