Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget is back on track, the Labour leadership said today (Wednesday 1 June).
The party said: “A new report shows that despite the challenge of major Conservative government cuts to funding, Labour have got the city’s finances back on track.
“Faced with an £8.5 million overspend when they took over from the Green Party last year, the Labour administration prevented a budget deficit at the end of the financial year, coming within 2 per cent of a balanced budget.
“In a report going to the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on (Thursday) 9 June, council officials will report the end of year position as being in slight surplus, a significant improvement on the forecast position at month 2 (May 2015) which was for the council to spend £8.5 million more than it had coming in.”
Councillor Ollie Sykes, for the Greens, said that, by comparing the year-end position with the month 2 position, Labour was not comparing like with like.
His party brought the budget back into balance in each financial year, he said, despite Labour voting at times in ways that had harmed the council’s finances.
Council leader Warren Morgan said: “We inherited a council that was spending too much and which is facing a 40 per cent cut in its funding. It was essential we got things under control.
“I want to commend officers and partners for all the work that has been done to help the council achieve this in very difficult circumstances.”
Councillor Morgan added: “We are continuing to suffer financial blow after financial blow from the Conservative government and the economy overall is far from strong, which is restricting growth in some sectors.
“I have no intention of exposing the city to the disasters that would arise from weak financial management.”
Councillor Les Hamilton, Labour’s lead member for finance, said: “We have to manage our risks and have strong contingencies in place to cover all our challenges and pressures.
“Residents need the security of knowing what the council can and cannot deliver over the coming years. To do that we have to keep the council’s finances firmly on track.
“Labour knows residents expect competence from the administration as well as vision, which is why Labour’s four-year plan, agreed at budget council in February, not only set out the direction of travel for services to 2019, but also a robust approach to financial management that would be pursued throughout the administration.
“By February the surplus was already being factored in and additional funds were allocated to priority service areas.
“Further surplus will be directed towards grass cutting and work to improve local streets.”