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Brent Council leader hits out government’s austerity cuts

PUBLISHED: 08:48 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:48 05 February 2019

Archant

The leader of Brent Council has accused the government of disregarding the needs of local authorities, following a report examining the effect of austerity in the UK.

Cllr Muhammed Butt urged Downing Street to stop further funding cuts to councils and called for the added support needed to meet increasing demand.

It comes after a report by think tank Centre for Cities highlighted the impact of austerity on hubs across the country.

Spending by councils across London has dropped by more than a fifth (21.1 per cent) since 2010, when the government introduced its cost-cutting policies.

Brent Council has been forced to make £164 million worth of savings since then.

By 2020, it will have seen its funding from central government cut by 79 per cent – this equates to a loss of £370 per resident for spending on core services.

Cllr Butt said: “In Brent, our residents are crying out for austerity to end, but with our council facing a further £40 million in cuts, we have another year of impossible decisions on which services we protect.

“If the government truly values the vital services local councils provide, from building homes to protecting our children through to fixing our roads, it must be willing to help fund them.”

The council announced its draft budget proposals last year, where it suggested areas of spending which could be cut.

These included a reduction of the council tax support scheme, the closure of children’s centres and the cessation of all voluntary sector grants.

After consultations with the public, the suggestion of introducing 15-minute calls in care homes was shelved, while library services remain safe “for the time being”.

Despite these seemingly difficult times, communities secretary James Brokenshire MP (Con) insisted that councils are being backed by the government.

He pointed out that £91.5 billion is being invested in local authorities over the next two years to “meet the needs of their residents”.

The public consultation ended on January 31.

Brent’s cabinet will meet to discuss the plans at 4pm on Monday.

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