Behind the budget
Our budget currently funds more than 700 services for people living and working in the city.
Councillor Warren Morgan, Leader of the Council hosted a live budget Q&A on Twitter on Thursday 16 February 2017. You can look back on the Q&A using #AskBHbudget or by going to our Twitter Moment.
We've also gathered together some information below to explore some of the issues which come up each year about council spending.
Go to our main page about our budget for 2017/18
Council Tax should pay for council services
Council Tax is 16% of our total income for the 2016/17 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. 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 £1.2million. This is not enough to bridge the funding gap.
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.
Nearly all the income is used to pay for free bus travel for 46,000 older and disabled people in the city, which the council has a legal duty to provide. In 2015/16 we spent £10.75 million on providing bus passes from available income of £12.69 million.
We invested just over £1 million back into supporting bus services. The remainder was spent on other transport benefits such as traffic light improvements, walking facilities and school travel plans
We're reducing our costs and working to improve our services. We’re currently working on improving the process that residents use to buy parking permits online. You can find out more on our digital blog.
You can find out more about income from parking in our 2015/16 parking annual report.
What’s happening to youth services?
Across the country many councils have had to look hard at the level of youth services they can afford.
Our budget for 2017/18 includes a 15% reduction in youth service funding. The reduction in the proposed budget saving means that we will continue to fund universal youth services, however some savings will still be required.
Universal youth services include
- youth club sessions held at youth centres and community buildings
- youth work activities
- advice sessions
We now need to consider how to manage the reduction of 15% (£155,000) and draw up revised commissioning plans. We have already achieved £50,000 from management savings.
In addition to the services above we will continue to provide
- Youth Employability Service (YES) for young people at risk of not being in employment, education or training (NEET)
- Youth Offending Service working with young people known to the criminal justice system
- RU-OK? Substance misuse service
- commissioned services to provide out of school activities for young people with a disability
- music and arts education service
- adolescent service which works with very vulnerable young people including those at risk of exploitation and/or substance misuse
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 4,370 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 £760 million (for 2016/17). The salary of our chief executive is £151,500 a year. This is set to be competitive with other local authorities of similar size and complexity.
Why fund the i360 if there’s not enough money?
The £36 million funding for the i360 from the council is not from the authority’s own budget and it wasn’t local tax payers’ money.
The money comes from Public Works Loans Board which only funds projects with a commercial return. This type of loan cannot be spent on services such as children’s centres, schools or social care.
The British Airways i360 opened in the city in August 2016. We get income from the i360 including business rates, and 1% of all ticket sales. This money is on top of repayments for the public works board loan that funded the construction of the i360.
Make students pay Council Tax
Full-time students living in England and Wales do not have to pay Council Tax by law. 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.
Just cut councillors and their allowances
We've 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 is £966,000. .
Savings of £43,000 are planned for 2017/18. These savings are subject to reviews by the Independent Remuneration Panel and Constitutional Working Groups.A saving of £44,000 was made in the 2016/17 Budget
Set a “no cuts” budget
Councillors are prevented by law from spending more than the council receives in income. Setting an illegal budget, in addition to being open to legal challenge, could result in the government stepping in to set a budget and run the council.
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 above that allowed by the government (currently 1.99% plus an Adult Social Care precept of 3%) there would have to be a referendum.
It is estimated that the cost of holding a referendum would be around £300,000 with additional one-off costs of over £500,000 due to the delay in implementing savings programmes.
Extra Business Rates will solve the problem
Business Rates are set nationally.
The government has said councils will in the future be able to keep all of their Business Rates, rather than the half they do currently. However this will not come into effect before 2020.
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
Information about our budget for the 2017/18 financial year
Join in the conversation, follow our twitter feed @brightonhovecc and use #BHBudget