The youth service has been saved, a Brighton and Hove councillor said tonight (Thursday 23 February) after a seven-hour budget meeting at Hove Town Hall.
Most of the £800,000 saving set out before Christmas has been restored to the budget although £205,000 a year will still be cut.
The figure had effectively been reduced to a £645,000 cut at the start of proceedings before a series of votes added £440,000 back into the council’s budget.
More than half of the money will come from the Housing Revenue Account. The reasoning is that those living on council estates would benefit – whether directly or indirectly – from a properly funded youth service. Some will come from ending cheaper parking permits for residents with diesel cars.
The effort to salvage the youth service budget follows months of protest by young people and their supporters.
Other amendments to Brighton and Hove City Council’s £760 million budget mean that less than expected will be cut from grants to charities and community groups. And funding has been restored for respite care for children with disabilities.
Protesters gathered outside the town hall before the meeting and at one point councillors in the chamber were showered with leaflets from the public gallery above.
After the meeting opposition Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls said: “I’m delighted. We’ve managed to save the youth service, reduce the size of the cut to the community and voluntary sector substantially and support respite breaks for families with disabled children.
“I’d like to thank all councillors for helping us to protect these important groups.”
Council leader Warren Morgan said: “As a council we are modernising, managing responsibly, innovating and changing the way we do things to make savings while investing in new resources and revenue generation.
“This budget is the best way to meet the challenges and deal with the reality of the finances for the year ahead. But the rise in council tax by 4.99 per cent is a move I proposed with a heavy heart as we know this will be an added pressure for people on lower incomes.”
Councillor Morgan added: “The increasing cost and demand for social care means we have to apply the full 3 per cent social care precept to council tax this year. Across the country councils are taking similar measures in response to this national issue.
“In Brighton and Hove we are committed to getting the basics right, protecting the vulnerable and growing an economy that benefits all. This focus helps us to protect and promote our city as we move forward.”
Amendments also enabled the Greens to find £135,000 in funding for their plan to open vacant council buildings as temporary shelters for the homeless. In part, they profited from the underspend on a big digital project at the council.
Council tax for the 2017-18 financial year – starting in April – will go up 4.99 per cent. For a band D property the basic bill will be £1,461.50 – up £69.47 from £1,392.03 in 2016-17.
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner precept will be £153.91 – up £5 from £148.91 – and the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Authority precept will be £88.40 – up £1.68 from £86.72.
The overall bill for a band D property rises to £1,703.81, up £76.15 from £1,627.66, with a slightly higher amount – almost £30 more – charged for those living in the area served by Rottingdean Parish Council. Residents of Hanover Crescent, Marine Square and Royal Crescent also pay extra.
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