Martin Francis provided details of the cuts to be discussed at the Council's executive meeting next Tuesday 15th February. His Wembley Matters blog details proposals to save £2,250,000 from services for the borough's under-fives and what they will mean for our children and for the jobs of skilled early years practitioners:
“The budget going to the Brent Executive on Tuesday includes proposals to save a total of £2,250,000 from early years provision and children centres. An additional £1,300,000 will be cut in 2012-13
The Sudbury and Cricklewood Children Centres and the Kingsbury Intergenerational Centre will not start . The existing centre teams will be restructured which not only will mean a loss of jobs but probably a reduction in the quality of staff as 'expensive' well-qualified early years specialists will no longer be recruited.. Sure Start central expenditure will be reduced as will allocations to each centre. In addition the Council is negotiating with Preston Park Primary, Wykeham Primary and Mount Stewart to persuade them to take over the running of modified children centres on their sites.
Although the document argues that the offer to vulnerable families can be maintained it is hard to see how this will be possible. It must be deeply troubling to Labour councillors to find themselves in this position. Early intervention has been proved time and time again to be more effective than later intervention and to save money in the long run. It will not only cost more in financial times but the social cost for economically and socially disadvantaged families will be enormous. Schools already facing funding cuts in real terms will in the future have to make additional provision for pupils who made insufficient progress in early years.
We will be failing a generation.”
His blog also reveals the extent and possible effects of cuts to youth services, the Welsh Harp and other services. The Willesden and Brent Times includes articles on the cuts to Children's Services and the Libraries' campaign while the Willesden and Wembley Observer includes a summary of likely cuts.
The extent of the cuts likely to be agreed at the executive meeting is breathtaking. It includes proposals to save £9.5million from the Adult Social Care budget. In language reminiscent of the description of the closure of half the borough's libraries as the "Libraries' Transformation Project" cuts of more than four million pounds from commissioning and procurement of adult social care are described as:
"Transformation of service through redesign of services. Improve services and commission alternative services which offer more choice and control to service users”
While making hard working and experienced Council staff redundant, Brent Council pays enormous fees to Consultants. Is it those consultants who dress up cuts in the Orwellian language of "transformation" and "improvement"?
What is really being proposed is an extension of outsourcing and privatisation. Remember Care in the Community when the old unwieldy mental institutions were closed down and their inmates were abandoned to life on the streets?
Other proposals include a 7% increase in rent for mental health supported living; a phasing out of mental health residential placements; withdrawal from the taxicard scheme for people too disabled to use public transport ....
WE HAVE TO DEFEND AND FIGHT FOR THESE SERVICES. THE NEXT BRENT FIGHTBACK MEETING IS ON THE SAME DAY AS THE EXECUTIVE MEETING - TUESDAY FEBRUARY 15th 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall 375 High Rd, Willesden NW10 2JR.
THE COUNCIL'S BUDGET SETTING MEETING IS ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 28th AT BRENT TOWN HALL. BRENT FIGHTBACK IS CALLING A LOBBY OF THAT MEETING FROM 6 pm. MAKE IT MASSIVE. LET'S UNITE ALL THE CAMPAIGNS, ALL THE SERVICE USERS, ALL THE WORKERS WHOSE JOBS ARE UNDER THREAT.
WE WILL BE CAMPAIGNING ON SATURDAY JANUARY 19th BOTH TO BUILD THAT LOBBY AND THE TUC MARCH FOR THE ALTERNATIVE ON MARCH 26th. The Brent Fightback meeting on Tuesday 15th January will be organising for that day of campaigning. Please come along and get involved.