Times letters: Council tax and child poverty

Brent Civic Centre.

Brent Civic Centre. - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Times’ readers this week.

Council has funds to freeze tax rise

Trevor Ellis, Chalk Hill Road, writes:

In regard to the leader of Brent council’s letter (A fairer deal in Brent and a need to balance the budget) I would like to share my thoughts on his call for “a fairer deal for Brent.”

If a shortage of money is the reason why Cllr Butt is effectively pleading poverty and laying the blame at the feet of the Tory led government for the “tough choices” he and his cabinet must make, I would like to ask him to cast his mind back to January 2015 and explain what happened to the £1.3million which according to Cllr John Warren wasn’t spent?

I find it rather confusing how Cllr Butt attempts to justify making band D householders pay 4.99 per cent to plug the gap in the 2018/2019 budget while failing to clarify how much the council has in it reserves and how it is to be spent?

Also a council that can afford to give £1m to the Tricycle Theatre while it chose to cease funding for the New Millennium Day Centre doesn’t reflect a cabinet with few options left other than to impose severe cuts (which by co-incidence affects the most vulnerable and needy in Brent).

No, it rather makes Brent Council look like a cabinet that is making a rod for its back simply because it gets its priorities wrong and then puts the blame on central government.

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The rod of course falls upon the backs of you and I because we are the ones that feel the pain when yet another community centre is forced to close down and when band D householders are expected to pay.

I’m not accusing Cllr Butt of being dishonest but I do believe that there is a real need for clarity rather than letters which attempt to make Brent council look like the victim of a tight fisted policy imposed by the Tory led government when the evidence suggests that the woes “we are feeling” are partly due to the way the council choses to spend your money.

Let’s end child poverty in Brent

Navin Shah Assembly Member, Brent and Harrow, writes:

It’s sad and frustrating to hear that around a third of children in our capital are growing up in poverty.

These statistics, published by the End Child Poverty Coalition, are yet another damming indictment of the government’s punitive agenda of cuts to welfare and its failure to address the cost of living crisis.

Worryingly, in Brent, figures show that 36.84 per cent of children are growing up beneath the breadline. The government says that work is the best way route of poverty, yet in London, 58pc of those in poverty are from working families.

I support calls from the End Child Poverty Coalition for the government to end its policy of freezing children’s benefits until 2020 to alleviate the burgeoning costs of living in London.

We need the government to start acting now to eradicate inequalities leading to child poverty.

The delivery of genuine council homes at social rent would be a good place to start.