5 March 2014

Council sets budget for year ahead

The Brighton & Hove City Council budget for 2014/15 has been set.

The budget tackles inequality and addresses a challenging reduction in funding from Government. The budget also provides support and protects services for residents, visitors and businesses. Whilst also continuing to invest in preventive work in social care and public health as well as the council’s ICT infrastructure where if investment is not made now the long terms costs would be far greater.

An increase of 1.99 % in the Brighton & Hove element of the Council Tax was agreed.

The budget was voted through with a joint amendment from the Green, Conservative and the Labour & Co-operative groups.

The use of the £306,000 unallocated one-off reserves to provide:

  • £120,000 transition funding for Able & Willing allowing the service until September 2015 for further business to be generated;
  • £165,000 to the overall discretionary grants budget for one year whilst alternative funding options are developed;
  • £15,000 for Pride in addition to the £10,000 to be carried forward from the 2013/14 allocation to support the Parade and Village party; and
  • £6,000 one-off transitional funding for Employment Support within Adult Social Care to shift to new models of working.

It is proposed to use the unallocated £23,000 resources in contingency:

  • To reverse the £9,000 saving in Children’s Services thereby removing the 2% reduction in Community & Voluntary Sector contracts for short breaks for disabled children;
  • To reverse the £7,000 saving in Children’s Services thereby removing the 2% reduction in Community & Voluntary Sector contracts for Link Plus; and to use the remaining £7,000 to reverse part of the £68,000 efficiency savings in the short break residential budget.

Council Leader Jason Kitcat said; “It was important that the council budget was set. It is vital that local councillors retain the final say on this. I’m pleased there was cross party agreement on a series of areas which will help keep services going in the year ahead. Everybody had to compromise. It wasn’t the budget we hoped for but at least the city has certainty and the Secretary of State will not be involved.”

Budget headlines

Through the council’s capital investment programme £80 million will be invested in council services including;

£11.3 million will be spent on primary schools
£34 million in housing stock
£7.8 million in new transport and street lighting schemes

The revenue budget reflects savings of over £16.7  million in the year ahead, needed as a result of government reductions in funding to the council, and increased demand for some services. It is predicted that £20 to £25 million savings will need to be found every year for the next five years.

The agreed budget includes over £10.8 million in savings from the Value for Money programme. For example the programme will deliver savings through a continued focus on re-ablement and personalisation within Adult Social Care, focussing on prevention and strengthening processes within Children’s Services and reducing management and administration costs.

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 to 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.

Editor’s notes

* The Local Government Finance settlement which in real terms i.e. taking into account inflation has reduced by -12.3% for 2014/15.