- The Brighton & Hove City Council budget for 2022/23 has been set
- Councillors decided how to allocate more than £1 billion
- The budget includes an increase of the council’s element of council tax of 2.99%
- This is a council tax increase of 1.99% plus an adult social care precept (funding only to be used for adult social care) of 1% to meet rising costs and increased demand
- Council Tax currently provides less than £1 in every £5 of what we spend on running services in our city
- On budget night, a new amendment was passed by all three political groups to increase funding and support for libraries, street lighting, investment in litter bins and to promote plastic recycling.
The biggest annual financial decision for Brighton & Hove was made on Thursday 24 February when councillors met to decide the council’s 2022-2023 budget, outlining funding for more than 700 services.
The final budget package for the city was over £1 billion, with much of that including ring-fenced funding for schools, public health and council housing.
It also included the need to make over £10 million savings as part of measures to address a budget gap of around £16 million resulting from the need to tackle the multiple pressures affecting local government finance nation-wide.
“Options were limited to meet the budget challenge”
At the meeting, councillors voted to increase council tax by 2.99% in order to help meet the huge budget gap caused by continually escalating costs and rising demand for services.
This includes an adult social care precept of 1% which was also agreed in order to help meet the increased need for vital care services for elderly and disabled residents as well as those with mental health needs.
Speaking about the decision to increase council tax, including the adult social care precept, Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said:
“In this year’s budget we have sought to protect frontline services. The city’s budget is under enormous pressure both as a result of a decade of government reductions and because of the rising cost of children’s and adult social care.
“As such, we are faced with a limited number of ways to meet the challenge: increase council tax, fees and charges or make cuts to frontline services such as libraries, nurseries and leisure centres.
“Our focus in the budget this year is supporting those most in need and, as we know that council tax is one of the bills our poorest households struggle with, we’re increasing support so their bills are lower.
“Despite the immense challenges, we’ve been able to prevent the worst impacts of cuts and bring the budget gap down from £18 million to £2 million which will be smoothed over four years.
“We’re prioritising ways to keep public services running and tackle the cost-of-living crisis, providing 90 additional council homes and prioritising the council’s welfare support fund so we can provide emergency help with food and bills.”
Councillor Tom Druitt, joint finance lead added: “Our options were limited to meet the budget challenge. Council tax funds only 19% of our overall budget, or £1 in every £5. On the back of years of central government funding reductions which amount to around £100 million in the past ten years, it’s been well publicised how much local councils are facing the strain.
“I’m pleased though that we listened to people in the city and worked hard to take off the table some of the more painful choices for this budget that would have hit people hard.
“Through this budget we’ve made sure that council services will keep running and have avoided the cuts and closures that other authorities have elected to make.”
“A fairer city today, while investing in a more sustainable future for all”
Given the challenges, the city’s budget plans included prioritising day-to-day spending on essential services and also made significant investments in areas that help tackle challenges the city faces – such as the ongoing cost of living crisis, climate crisis and recovery from Covid-19.
Talking about the council’s spending priorities and investments, Councillor David Gibson, joint finance lead said: “This was a budget where we made sure to protect the vital public services that our residents, visitors and businesses depend on.
"From libraries to children’s nurseries, we’ve listened to our communities.
“We’re also proud of our investments to help the most vulnerable, with over £7 million invested in services for adults and children and almost £9 million extra invested in taking action in response to the climate and biodiversity emergency.
“These show that we’re protecting public services for a fairer city today, while investing in a more sustainable future for all.”