Brighton and Hove City Council is to help fund its “lowest ever” council tax rise by slashing 160 jobs.
The council announced this week it intends imposing a rise of 2.5% – which while its lowest ever is still above inflation, and more than the expected national average.
But the price of this low rise is job losses. The cuts, which total £7.9million, are due to be made to:
- Adult social care (with 34 jobs affected)
- Children’s services (14 jobs affected)
- Culture and enterprise (34 jobs affected)
- Finance and resources (25 jobs affected)
- Environment (20 jobs affected)
- Strategy and Governance (16 jobs affected)
The frontline services affected include:
- Booth Museum, where opening hours will be reduced
- Brighton History Centre, which will be moved to the Jubilee Library
- Transport for children with special educational needs to cut bill by 10%
- Youth offending service, budget cut by £126,000
- Bus subsidies, £1.505 budget cut by £200,000
- Seaside properties, whose rents will be hiked to raise an extra £80,000, and 17 more built to raise another £80,000
- Social services, whose users will be given a “personal budget”, thus cutting overall budget by £410,000 through individuals’ “cost-effective” decisions
The council is transferring £1million to its redundancy fund in anticipation of the job losses.
It also hopes to boost its income by £1.3million, with measures such as online payments and sponsorship.
Finally, it intends making savings of £2.5milllion through “service changes”, for instance by turning libraries into community hubs.
The proposals have been slammed by Green councillor Ben Duncan, who said on his blog: “It’s clear this budget will be an absolute disaster, particularly for the most vulnerable in the city.”
He added: “This will be great news for a few – but bad news for thousands of the most vulnerable in the city.
“And an absolute disaster for the local economy: it doesn’t take much wit to realise that the best way of helping people in a recession is to offer them job security, and make sure there’s money being spent locally, and make sure public services are protected in the face of rising demand.”
But the plans were defended by council leader Mary Mears. She told The Argus: “We understand the pressures many of the city’s residents are under at the moment and that is why we have responded by proposing the city’s lowest ever council tax increase.
“Imposing tight limits on our spending and a laser-like focus on delivering value for money have enabled us to balance the books without hitting the council taxpayer in the pocket.”
The need to make cuts has been blamed by Mary Mears on the amount of central government funding the council has been given this year.
Writing on her blog, she said it was once again the lowest amount the Labour government could award them, a rise of 1.5% to £109.2million, compared to a national average rise of 2.6%.
The proposals, which can be found here, will be discussed at next Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
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