14 November 2017

Local authorities close to breaking point says council leader

Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of the council, has called for an end to local government austerity saying local authorities are close to breaking point. Cllr Morgan has written to Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to highlight the issues facing Brighton & Hove City Council and many  other local authorities across the country. 

Cllr Morgan also sent the details of the council's 2017 Autumn Budget Representation from Brighton & Hove City Council, which was submitted to HM Treasury in September. 

Please see below for the full letter and you can read the 2017 Autumn Budget Representation from Brighton & Hove City Council 

Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government

Cllr Warren Morgan
Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council

14 November 2017

Dear Minister

A Budget to end local government austerity

I am writing on behalf of the residents and businesses of Brighton & Hove to urge your strong support in finding additional government investment funding for local public services.  The points I make both align with and follow on from my officers’ response to HM Treasury’s earlier consultation on the forthcoming Autumn Budget (annexed to this letter).

Our city lies at the heart of the Greater Brighton economic region and we aim not only to raise the living standards, health, and well-being of our local residents but also to drive forwards the wider south east and national economy. 

As a city council, we take a collaborative approach with our neighbouring Greater Brighton partners, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and the South East 7 upper tier authorities. With government investment in local public services, I believe we can raise productivity and support our local businesses and workforce to make an even greater contribution to the UK’s economic performance. 

Recently, the Greater Brighton Economic Board hosted a successful two-day workshop, with representatives from your senior civil servant team and others from BEIS, DiT, DfT and DCMS, to work through how we can support delivery of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy.   I’d like to thank your department for this very welcome partnership approach from government teams. With the necessary government funding and infrastructure investment support, we will improve the supply of much needed affordable housing, and support employers and their staff across our region to stay resilient in the face of major economic challenges. I trust in the near future we will be able to show you and the Housing Minister how we are making a real difference, and we welcome any new opportunities that will help us deliver better outcomes.

As local democratic representatives of our community, I believe the city council can also play a vital convening and facilitative role in helping local enterprise seize international trade and inward investment opportunities. Indeed last week we received the third in a series of delegations from China, a market we are supporting UK businesses in accessing.  I hope our ‘Brighton Town Hall for business’ initiative is something you and your Ministerial colleagues will be keen to invest in.

We are working incredibly hard to deliver resilient local public services. We are investing in the digital technology to make them more productive and effective. A ‘Better Brighton & Hove Think Tank’ has been established in the city to support public sector innovation, and we have established shared service arrangements with our neighbouring authorities to improve back office efficiency. Moreover, we are firmly engaged in delivering health and social care integration with our NHS colleagues. With cross party agreement, we are also asking for ministerial support in finding new government money to improve the pay of  lower paid public sector staff in order that the public services can continue to recruit and retain dedicated people.

As a council we have had little choice but to make incredibly painful budget reductions as a consequence of the enormous reduction in our Revenue Support Grant.  This has been the case over successive administrations. With rising demand from vulnerable adults and children for our social care services, and without an end to local government austerity, I fear we as other local authorities are close to breaking point. This is something my South East 7 colleagues and I and the Local Government Association have been lobbying hard on. I am therefore requesting that  you and your cabinet colleagues respond sympathetically and positively to this desperately worrying situation facing the city I proudly represent. I will be watching with interest to see how you may have secured help for local authorities to deliver our shared goals in the forthcoming budget settlement, which no doubt will have an impact on the future of local government.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Warren Morgan
Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council