Behind the budget

Our budget currently funds more than 700 services for people living and working in the city.

Read some frequently asked questions about our budget below. 

Doesn't Council Tax pay for all my council services?

Council Tax will be 18.5% of our total income for the 2018/19 financial year.

We do not have the money to continue as we are, even with a Council Tax increase. The amount of money we receive from central government is reducing each year and there is increasing demand for social care. 

We're changing the way we deliver our services and finding ways to reduce costs and increase our income. Reducing costs could mean stopping some of the services we currently provide.

For each 1% rise in Council Tax, we receive an additional £1.3 million. Even with a 5.99% increase, including a 3% Adult Social Care precept, this is considerably short of bridging the funding gap.

The budget agreed for 2018/19 includes an increase of 5.99%. This means that the council's element for standard Band D Council Tax will rise by £87.57 to £1,549.07 in 2018/19. Your total Council Tax bill also includes funding for Sussex Police and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. With these additional amounts included Council Tax for standard Band D will rise to £1,805.98 in 2018/19.

Go to our full list of Council Tax bands and charges.

Find out more about our income and the cost of our services.

How about using parking charges?

We get income from council owned car parks, on street parking, permits and tickets issued by our parking enforcement officers.

Parking charges for 2018/19 were agreed by the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on 23 January, with prices mainly frozen for the next financial year.

Our surplus from on-street parking for 2016/17 was £13,686,652 and from off-street parking was £2,869,184. The surplus is how much we have after all the outgoing costs. Costs include; enforcement, administration, maintaining parking machines, and reviewing or introducing new schemes. Figures quoted in the media often do not take account of these costs.

Nearly all this income is used to pay for free bus travel for thousands of older and disabled people in the city, which the council has a legal duty to provide. In 2016/17 we spent £10,929,562 on providing bus passes from available income of £14,670,347 million.

In 2016/17 we also invested just over £908,278 to support bus services. The remainder was spent on other transport benefits such as traffic light improvements, walking facilities and school travel plans

You can find out more about income from parking in our 2016/17 parking annual report

Why don't you cut pay instead of services?

We're an accredited living wage employer. The Living Wage is a voluntary commitment and is separate from the National Minimum Wage which employers are required to pay by law.

The council employs around 4,267 full and part time staff to manage and deliver more than 700 services. The council has been changing the way it works, staff numbers have reduced and digital ways for residents to access services have been introduced to provide services as efficiently as possible.

Our chief executive, Geoff Raw, is the most senior officer in the council. He is responsible for leading and taking responsibility for the work of all council’s staff as well as managing a budget of £756 million (for 2017/18). The salary of our chief executive is £153,015 a year. This is set to be competitive with other local authorities of similar size and complexity.

Find out more about working for us and staff salaries and pay

Can't the council charge students Council Tax?

The council cannot charge full-time students Council Tax by law.

Full-time students living in England and Wales do not have to pay Council Tax once they start their course. However they must apply to the council for an exemption with evidence confirming that they are a full-time student. This is a policy set by national government.

Find out more about our income and the cost of our services.

How about cutting the number of councillors and their allowances?

We asked the Local Government Boundary Commission to give a view on the number of councillors that Brighton & Hove has. We asked for the information at the request of the Leader of the Council and the leaders of the other political groups in the council. 

The commission's independent view is that the council has the right number of councillors and wards, broadly in line with the average for similar sized authorities. A reduction in numbers would go below the levels of representation that they would expect.

No changes to councillor numbers could legally take place until the next elections in 2019.

Councillors’ allowances are set on the recommendations of an independent panel. The total budget for councillors’ allowances in 2017/18 is £1,057,000. 

Why doesn’t the council just spend as much as it wants to on services?

Councillors are prevented by law from spending more than the council receives in funding and income. Councillors must set a balanced budget by law. Setting an illegal budget would be open to legal and external auditor challenge and can result in all new spending being halted under what’s called a Section 114 notice.

Can you charge wealthier people more Council Tax?

Council Tax is based on property values rather than income. The council cannot vary the relative rates that different bands of housing are charged, this is set nationally under the Local Government Finance Act.

If the council were to propose a level of Council Tax increase above that allowed by the government there would have to be a referendum.

Each additional 1% on Council Tax delivers around £1.3 million. So to fully offset the £12.4 million needed in the coming year, Council Tax would have to increase by a further 9% (a total of 14.99% overall).

Surely Business Rates will solve the problem?

Business Rates are set nationally.

The government has said that, in the future, councils will be able to keep all of their Business Rates, rather than the half they do currently. However the government has not included any proposals for 100% retained Business Rates in the parliamentary agenda for the next two years.

It is very likely that the government will give new or additional responsibilities (and associated costs) to local authorities alongside this extra funding. 

It is also likely other funding will be removed, to avoid adding to public spending overall. It is unclear at present whether or not there will be any net benefit to the council.

Find out more

Find out more about setting our budget for 2018/19

Information about our budget for the current financial year

Join in the conversation, follow our twitter feed and use #bhbudget

​Take a look at the Twitter moment for our live 2018/2019 budget Q&A