Report claims Brent Council is at risk of failing children through lack of school places

Documents say local authority will be unable to meet the demand and fail its statutory duty

Brent Council is at risk of failing to fulfil its duty to provide education and adequately safeguard children, according to a report.

In a council document, the local authority sets out key risks and the likelihood of them happening by giving them a score of between one and six – with six being the “most serious” and “almost certain” to happen.

Worryingly, it is “almost certain” that the council will be unable to meet the demand for school places and therefore perform its statutory duty to provide education to children in the borough.

Cllr Mary Arnold (Labour), the council’s lead member for children and families, said: “The risk management register is about mitigating the risks and pressures faced by the council.

“Our population is growing and there are higher demands. But we have had a huge expansion programme. We are moving fast. One of the real issues we have is late applications after the closure date. We have a whole range of measures to make sure every child gets into school.”

It is also very likely that the council will not be able to adequately safeguard vulnerable children.

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But Cllr Arnold said: “It is a risk but our recent inspection report said our children are safe.

“We are increasing early intervention to reduce the number of children going into care.”

There is also significant risk that there will be major IT and customer service failure when the new Civic Centre opens in Wembley next year.

And because of budget reductions, changes to legislation and economic recession, it is highly likely the council will be unable to meet its statutory service demand.

It is believed fewer people will have to work harder and do more, the report says.

Cllr Mohammed Butt, leader of the council and lead member for corporate strategy, said: “It’s normal practice for us to do this.

“It is about identifying risks that could have an impact. There is a chance that some of these might happen. But they might not. We have to identify those risks and minimise their impact if they were to happen.”