Greens propose council tax rise to protect services in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 27 Nov 2012 at 5:30 pm

The Green Party wants to put up council tax by 2 per cent in Brighton and Hove from next April.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said that the proposed rise – equal to 43p a week for the average home – was necessary to protect essential services.

He said that Brighton and Hove City Council had to cut spending by about £21 million which was about £7 million more than expected.

As a result, about 160 jobs are expected to go by next May. Of these, 110 posts are likely to be cut through a voluntary severance scheme.

Those wanting to take redundancy will be able to apply from Thursday 13 December until Friday 18 January.

Labour finance spokesman Councillor Les Hamilton said: “While the Tory-led government continues to impose cuts to council budgets, the Green administration running the council shows little regard for limited public finances and continues to recklessly spend money on their pet projects.

“At a time when adult and children’s services are under pressure, do we really need to spend £90,000 on a public ‘behavioural change’ campaign to endorse the Greens’ ‘one planet living’ project?”

Councillor Kitcat said that such schemes, including smart metering, were helping the council save cash.

He said: “These budget proposals represent our commitment to protecting the city’s essential services for residents.

“We are facing unexpected additional budget cuts which have massively increased the deficit during this two-year budget period.

“Our focus now with these proposals is to ensure all services are run as efficiently as possible.

“We are proposing a modest below-inflation 2 per cent rise in council tax while setting aside £1.5 million to help those least able to pay.

“With the challenging economic climate, we do recognise any tax increases are difficult.

“Despite this we are working hard to keep Brighton and Hove’s economy growing.

“We will be funding major investment in the digital network infrastructure to keep the city at the forefront of creative innovative business.

“These proposals protect essential services while carving out a path which is ambitious for the city’s future.”

The full details of the proposed council budget for 2013-14 are available at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/bhbudget.

The Greens proposed a 3.5 per cent council tax increase last March but the opposition Conservative and Labour groups combined to vote instead for a freeze.

The government has offered extra cash in exchange for freezing council tax but the Greens said that this reduces the council’s tax base in future years, threatening vital services.

Both proposed increases were set below the level that would trigger a local referendum.

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