Behind the budget

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

Below is more detail about some of the things that fund the council's budget and how we're able to spend that money.

How Council Tax funds the council

Council Tax will be 18.7% of our total income for the 2021 to 2022 financial year.

The increasing cost of council services is greater the additional income raised through increases to council tax and therefore creates a funding gap and so the council is focussing on ways to reduce costs and deliver value for money.

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 £1.5 million. Even with a 4.99% increase, including a 3% Adult Social Care precept, this is considerably short of bridging the funding gap and the budget includes a savings package of £10.7m.

The budget agreed for 2021 to 2022 includes an increase of 4.99%. This means that the council's element for standard Band D Council Tax will rise by £82.77 to £1,741.88 in 2021 to 2022. 

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 £2,054.22 in 2021 to 2022.

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

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


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, students must apply to the council for an exemption, with evidence that confirms they are a full-time student. This is a policy set by national government.

How Council Tax is decided

Council Tax is based on property values of dwellings which are set by the Valuation Office and allocated to Bands A to H. The council cannot vary the relative rates applied to different bands as these are set nationally under the Local Government Finance Act.

If the council were to propose a level of Council Tax increase above a threshold set by government, there would have to be a referendum (5% in 2021 to 2022).

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 2021 to 2022 were agreed by the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on 19 January 2021 and further amended at Budget Council on 25 February. Find out more about parking charges in the city

Our surplus from on-street parking for 2019 to 2020 was £16.5m and from off-street parking was £2.6m. The surplus is how much we have after all the outgoing costs.

Costs include:

  • enforcement
  • administration
  • maintaining parking machines
  • reviewing or introducing new schemes

Figures quoted in the media often do not take account of these costs.

The majority of on the on-street parking surplus is used to pay for free bus travel for thousands of older and disabled people in the city. The council has a legal duty to provide this and, in 2019 to 2020, we spent £10.8m on providing bus passes.

In 2019 to 2020 we also invested just over £1.2m to support bus services and other public transport services. The remainder was spent on other transport benefits such as traffic light improvements, schools travel plans, walking and cycling facilities.

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

Staff pay and its impact

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 over 4,000 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. This provides 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 £825.6 million (for 2021 to 2022).

The salary of our chief executive is £163,575 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

Councillors and their allowances

We asked the Local Government Boundary Commission to give a view on the number of councillors that Brighton & Hove has.

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 2023.

Councillors’ allowances are set on the recommendations of an independent panel. The total budget for councillors’ allowances in 2021 to 2022 is £1m. 

Legal restrictions on spending

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.

Business rates

Business Rates are set nationally.

The government has said that, in the future, councils will be able to keep a larger share of their Business Rates, rather than the half they do currently.

However, the government has delayed recent proposals for 75% retained Business Rates and this won’t be until 2022 to 2023 at the earliest.

It is very likely that the government will give new or additional responsibilities (and associated costs) to local authorities alongside the extra funding from an increased share of business rates, or remove other sources of funding, to avoid adding to public spending overall.