29 November 2013

Budget proposals for 2014/15

Budget proposals that address a growing demand for council services coupled with a challenging reduction in local authority funding are being set out.

The Brighton & Hove City Council budget 2014/2015 proposals have been developed to support and protect services for residents, visitors and businesses whilst keeping in mind a longer term direction of services. For example, continuing to invest in preventive work.

The report going to the Policy and Resources Committee on 5th December 2013 sets out the initial proposals for the General Fund Revenue Budget and Council Tax for 2014/15. 

The proposals reflect a budget gap of around 23.6 million in the year ahead, as a result of government reductions in funding to the council, and an increased demand for some services due to changes in the population profile.

The proposed measures include service redesign, improvements in efficiency and a proposed rise in council tax of 2% to help meet the budget gap.

Service efficiencies are being achieved through the Council’s Value for Money programme which over the last 3 years has exceeded its original revenue target of £18.855m by £3.905m.  Further Value For Money savings of £8.285m are expected to be deliverable in 2014/15.

Council Leader Jason Kitcat said; "This is an incredibly tough time for councils. We face steeply declining government funding as well as increased demand for our services. These create relentless pressure on our budgets.”

"In the face of these pressures we are proposing a budget which protects essential services for all, invests for the future and supports the local economy.

"Once again we've published our draft budget two months before it is decided to give everyone in the city an opportunity to have their say."

KEY PROPOSALS

·         Raise council tax by 2% 

·         Freezing parking charges

·         No changes to the council tax reduction scheme which helps support those on low income with their council tax bills

·         No changes to eligibility criteria for getting help from social care 

·         Council support for carers protected

·         Redesign of Adult Social Care provider services while ensuring all eligible needs are met.

·         All library buildings and children’s centres to remain open

·         A continued value for money programme to deliver financial and carbon savings from using fewer office buildings and making better use of technology

·         Investment in early help for children and families to help reduce the numbers of children who need to come into local authority care

·         Investment in alternative choices to traditional residential and nursing home care that help people to stay in their own homes or get extra support to stay as independent as possible 

·         Minimise compulsory redundancies by offering a voluntary severance scheme where services are being redesigned

·         On going support to financial advice agencies in the city to help residents cope with the government’s welfare reforms

BACKGROUND

Over the last three years we’ve saved around £60m mainly by doing things differently and working more efficiently to minimise the impact on services.

We need to plan to save around £100m over the next 4-5 years.  We’re working year round on being more efficient, learning what works to save money and making changes to improve.

These changes and the push from central government towards increased self sufficiency mean many local authorities, including Brighton & Hove, will also need to look at alternative options for the commissioning and delivery of services and make difficult decisions about priorities.

EDITORS NOTES

Budget proposal papers http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=689&MId=4687

We’ve made a short animation to make it easier to understand the council budget. www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/budgetvideo will redirect straight to youtube 
Budget update and savings 2014/15 is coming to Policy & Resources committee on Dec 5th 2013 
http://present.brighton hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=689&MId=4687 

A period of public consultation will examine the budget proposals. 

The budget council meeting will be held on 27 February 2014 to determine both the budget and the council tax for 2014/15.

The budget papers and budget pages are available on the council’s website at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/bhbudget

Follow the Brighton & Hove City Council budget discussion on twitter at #bhbudget