The council’s budget proposals outlines funding for more than 700 public services and how they will be paid for in the 2021-2022 financial year.
It requires just over £2 million to run council services every day for the city’s population of almost 300,000 people and the costs are rising.
The latest proposals are going to the council’s Policy & Resources Committee Thursday 11 February for discussion. The final budget will be decided by all 54 councillors at Budget Council Thursday 25 February.
These proposals present a balanced budget despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Protecting and investing in the services our communities need”
The council continues to face financial challenges following many years of reducing government funding, rising demand for social care as well as the added impact of the pandemic on council services and large losses of revenues and income from fees and charges.
Councillor David Gibson, joint finance lead, said: “This is a budget that’s being set during an unprecedented crisis – a health crisis caused by the continuing global pandemic and a climate and biodiversity emergency.
“The council’s budget must protect and invest in the services our communities need so the city council can respond to the pandemic and climate emergency and focus on Brighton & Hove’s recovery and renewal for a better future.”
“A vision for a fairer city, a sustainable future”
The budget proposals have been developed to support delivery of the council’s Corporate Plan for 2020 to 2023.
Councillor Tom Druitt, joint finance lead said: “The council’s Corporate Plan shares a vision for a fairer city and a sustainable future.
“To reach that vision there are six outcomes that the Corporate Plan aims to achieve for Brighton & Hove. These proposals prioritise our day to day spending and capital investment towards delivering those outcomes for the city.”
The proposals include:
- A city to call home – investing in new housing and homelessness prevention including increased funding for temporary and emergency accommodation. Not addressing homelessness will end up costing the city more in the long run.
- A city working for all – continuing support for the city’s recovery and renewal as it comes out of the pandemic while also providing funding for supporting the recovery of the arts and culture sector and investment into community wealth building.
- A sustainable city – supporting the city’s Climate Assembly action plan and creating a £1m Carbon Reduction Reserve to provide for and advance initiatives to support the aim of a carbon neutral city by 2030, improving the sustainability and biodiversity of the city, as well as the health and wellbeing of its residents through promoting active travel, investing in green spaces and tree planting, and improving air quality, for example, through the School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhood initiatives.
- A stronger city – supporting graffiti removal and community clean ups, as well as rubbish removal from the A27 to support a better environment and attract people to the city, including supporting our Arts Sector Recovery plan and beginning restoration of Madeira Terraces.
- A growing and learning city – investment in youth services and youth engagement. The budget also proposes investments to continue to tackle inequality and disadvantage including responding to disadvantage among young people, supporting BAME initiatives and race education.
- A healthy and caring city – investing in adults and children’s social care services to help vulnerable people and to meet ever growing demands which have been rising for many years and have increased even further during the pandemic.
The proposed Capital Investment Programme for 2021/22 is over £221 million and includes over £70 million for additional and better housing.
“This is a budget set in a crisis, but these are proposals of hope”
The proposals outline a savings programme of £10.644m to contribute to meeting increased costs.
The budget also proposes a 1.99% Council Tax increase to meet these pressures and an additional 3% precept ring-fenced to respond to the increasing costs of adult social care.
Council Tax accounts for less than one fifth of overall council spending with the rest coming from grants, business rates, fees, charges, commercial rents and other income streams.
Council Leader, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, said: “There’s unprecedented pressure on the budget this year and it relates to big overlapping, different issues.
“There’s the knock-on effect of more than a decade of government cuts as it converges with Covid-19 council funding, where expenditure has ballooned, income has decreased and government grants have been nowhere sufficient. We also have the need to respond to stubborn challenges like housing and homelessness, climate change and the implications of Brexit.
“Councillors have a responsibility to oversee public finances and make sure the city’s residents are provided with the services they need and that we’re able to respond to the ongoing crisis.
“We know that the pandemic has hit many incomes hard. This is why we are reducing the burden of Council Tax on those with low incomes. The Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTR) will see discounts increased from 80% to 82% with no minimum awards for those in financial hardship to bring more people into the scheme. This in turn entitles residents to other general help or discounts.
“This is a budget set in a crisis, but these are proposals of hope for a fairer, healthier and more sustainable city.”
You can watch councillors discuss these proposals live on Thursday 11 February at 4pm through the webcast. The final budget will be decided at Budget Council, Thursday 25 February.