COUNCIL tax will be frozen for another year in Brent in a budget that ‘will help to protect the most vulnerable residents’, according to the council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt.
Cllr. Muhammed Butt told Monday’s full council meeting: “As a result of the coalition government’s policies, what we face is nothing short of a budget emergency.
“Resolving this will require the complete transformation of the council as an organisation and the way in which we deliver services to residents.
“This Labour council will bring forward a package of reforms that will help to protect our most vulnerable residents.
“It will put fairness, jobs, growth and community at the heart of everything the council does.”
The draft budget includes £7.8million of savings combined with an extra £7.7m of spending just to address growing demand and the impact of inflation.
Mr Butt said the council will be leading the way for Brent becoming a Living Wage Borough – ensuring staff and contractors, except those in social care, receive at least £8.55 an hour.
It also wants to create an energy co-operative to bulk-buy energy and supply low-price power to its citizens, and will unveil initiatives to get rid of what Mr Butt branded ‘slum housing’ by ensuring the quality and management of the borough’s private sector accommodation is up to scratch.
The administration promises a ‘new deal’ with Brent’s businesses by introducing measures to foster enterprise and investment.
The 2013/14 budget also contains £3.4m to cover redundancy and restructuring costs, as well as £1.4m to meet the growth in the cost of Freedom Pass and £900,000 to underwrite the South Kilburn Estate redevelopment. In the capital programme, the council proposes to spend £33.8m on school improvements.
Councillor Paul Lorber, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, said: “There was very little substance in the budget. We have a number of concerns, one of those being the amount of money being wasted, both on getting rid of the chief executive and director of finance at a cost running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, and on the upkeep of empty library buildings.
“And the council has, under Labour, been extremely business unfriendly, in particular their parking charges.”
source Harrow Observer.