Brent’s councillors looking for ‘full refund’ from government to avoid £26.4m cuts after Covid
PUBLISHED: 13:41 17 July 2020
Brent Council has warned more pain is on the way with a projected £26.4 million budget shortfall, following coronavirus costs.
Deputy leader Cllr Margaret McLennan outlined projected cuts at an online council meeting on Monday, July 13.
She said: “With Covid everything’s gone out the window in terms of what we were trying to achieve”.
Given the current level of government support, Labour councillors said they are looking at a shortfall of £26.4m and will be looking to Whitehall for a “full refund”.
“The plans that we’ve agreed going forward for 21/22-22/23 budgets are cuts of £4.3m and £1.8m,” said Cllr McLennan. ”They might be in jeopardy in so far as to date we have spent, and is coming up to, and this is an approximation, some £47.6m on extra costs that we will have to find.”
The council received a share of £500m from the government which “equates to £2.8m” for Brent which is on top of £21.2m it received earlier, but she said the council spent £2m on personal protection equipment (PPE) alone.
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“In essence we’re stuck if we do not manage to get funding back from the government,” she added.
“We’ll not stop challenging the full refund that was promised to us at the outset of this to make sure all of us are in the same position to help residents.”
Cllr Robert Johnson said: “Brent is doing what the government should be doing. We provided PPE to care homes, providing meals to vulnerable people and on the matter of homeless people. The government instruction was to take them off the street and basically they should be paying for that.
“I don’t think we should be allowing them to get away with this and we should be fighting them in the strongest possible way to get our money back.
Conservative leader Cllr Suresh Kansagara said: “We as Brent Council has got large sums in reserves for rainy days and this is raining now.”
But Cllr Shama Tatler hit back: “We’ve taken diligent decisions and responsible decisions over the Labour council to make sure we have reserves for a rainy day.
“This goes beyond that, this goes to the credibility of the government and the ministers who said they were going to support local government thorough this crisis and they’re not.”
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