The Communities Minister, Eric Pickles, and Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, continue to berate some councils for having large budget reserves while drastically cutting services. Reserves are needed so that we can manage risks during the year, so if it snows for weeks in winter we can top up our gritting salt, or if there is an unexpected demand for social services for children or the elderly, we can dip into reserves to avoid an overspend. Brent reserves have rarely been above £10 million, which means the borough has the lowest percentage of reserves at 4.4% of any London council and is tiny when compared to Conservative Kensington and Chelsea's 54.7%. The opposition groups in Brent want to use reserves to avoid hard decisions about cuts. But the Finance Director advises that such proposals would expose us to "unacceptable risks”.