More than 2,000 Brent Council staff to receive Covid bonuses

Brent Civic Centre

Brent Civic Centre - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Brent Council staff below senior management level are set to receive £500 bonuses for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just over 2,000 employees will receive payment, pro rata for those who work part time.

Council leader Muhammed Butt (Lab) said the decision to hand out bonuses to staff was a token of thanks for their ongoing work in “the worst pandemic in 100 years”.

He added it would go some way to compensate a lack of reward from the government and suggested this responsibility had been “forced” on local authorities.

Former Liberal Democrat council leader Paul Lorber said the bonuses should not form part of the base budget for 2020/21-2022/23, which includes a proposed 4.99 per cent tax hike for next year and millions of pounds of cuts.

He told a meeting of Brent's cabinet last Monday (February 8) that he had no issue with awarding the bonuses, but suggested they should be taken from the council’s reserves.

“It is the responsibility of the council to ensure the interests of local residents are protected as much as possible and, in connection with the budget, to ensure they are not paying twice for the same things,” he told a Brent Council cabinet meeting on Monday (February 8).

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“There are a number of one-off expenditures which should be paid for out of the reserves. You as a council have decided to pay employees a bonus of £500 – that is fine, that’s your decision.

“But you shouldn’t be asking residents to pay for this out of the base for this year. It’s a one-off expenditure and that’s what some of the reserves are for.”

Mr Lorber added that the decision to cover the increase in the number of people being paid the London Living Wage (LLW) under its contracts through the base budget was also unfair on taxpayers.

Cllr Margaret McLennan, who is lead member for resources at Brent Council, said the administration must be wary not to be “too reliant” on reserves.

She said they are important to ensure residents are protected in emergency situations relating to finances and allow the council to support the borough’s infrastructure.