Council tax expected to go up 4.99 per cent to help fund £830m ‘recovery’ budget

Survival and recovery are the priorities in the council’s budget for the coming year, according to a report setting out spending plans for the coming year.

The goals are a response to the economic damage wreaked by the response to the coronavirus pandemic since last March.

Brighton and Hove City Council plans to spend £830 million across all its services including schools, housing, major projects, adult social care and public health.

The Greens are due to present their budget plans next Thursday (25 February) when they will propose a 4.99 per cent rise in council tax.

Most of the increase has been earmarked for spending on adult social care – the equivalent of a 3 per cent rise – with a 1.99 per cent rise for spending on other services.

The budget has to be approved at a meeting of the full council – known as budget council – and the changes tend to take effect from the start of April.

The budget council report was published yesterday and said: “The budget proposed for 2021-22 is … one that focuses on survival as the country and the city hopefully emerge from the pandemic.

“The budget proposals aim to maintain the financial resilience of the council while also ensuring that the council is able to support recovery and renewal across the city by underpinning support for vulnerable people and those in hardship.

“The budget also focuses on using public funds for the benefit of the local economy, investing in a cleaner more sustainable city and substantially investing in housing provision to continue to alleviate homelessness which could otherwise result in longer-term costs for the council and the city.”

Already, a cross-party committee of senior councillors has agreed changes to the original budget proposals, aimed in part at boosting tourism once the latest national lockdown is over.

The changes included funding

  • more investment in the Madeira Terraces
  • restoration of the seafront railings
  • improvements to the A23 Patcham roundabout
  • welcome signs at Brighton and Hove railway stations and on the seafront
  • investment in Volk’s Railway
  • a new skate park at Hove Lagoon
  • lighting for Armada Beacon on Hove seafront

The budget also proposes spending £10 million towards the council’s goal of Brighton and Hove becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

The report said: “In 2018, this council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency and, in response, the Corporate Plan therefore contains plans and objectives to respond to the emergency including the ambition of a carbon-neutral city by 2030.

“In lieu of central government funding, the budget contains proposals to support carbon reduction but recognises that these must be affordable and prudential in the context of the overall budget and resources available.

“By investing in active travel, energy efficiency and green spaces, the budget proposals support the drive for improved air quality and promotes public health by providing the means to exercise and use alternative forms of transport.

“Budget proposals also recognise the social, economic and health benefits of supporting a sustainable recovery for the city from the pandemic.

“Alongside the proposals to protect investment in community and voluntary services and invest in youth services, the budget proposals are also aiming to support young people and their futures.”

The council spends more than £2 million a day to run services in a normal year, with the bulk of the money going on schools and adult social care.

In the past year, the council faced higher costs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, notably in social care and housing rough sleepers.

But some sources of income dropped, such as business rates, although the government has also given councils millions of pounds of extra funding.

In the spring and summer last year there were fears that the pandemic could lead to a black hole of as much as £51 million in the council’s budget.

The council’s acting finance chief Nigel Manvell warned councillors at previous meetings that savings totalling £10 million would be needed so that the council could balance the books.

He also told them that the proposed 4.99 per cent increase in council tax would raise an extra £5.4 million for the council to spend, or £156 million in total.

With all these measures, he said, the council could just about end the year at “breakeven”.

The budget council meeting is due to start at 4.30pm next Thursday (25 February) and is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Hove Guy Reply

    The best way of dealing with the economy in Brighton and Hove is to get rid of the Greens. They are like a cancer spreading their malicious infection around the city. No mention about the proposed rise in their salaries here.

    This council is not only th e most incompetent we have ever had, but also one of the greediest and meanest. A friend of mine was fined £400 after an envelope, addressed to his company, fell out of the refuse bag, which he had paid the council for, after he placed the bag in a nearby large refuse bin. He had no idea thsi had happened until he received the request for payment from the council. And nearby, one shopkeeper was fined, when delivery men had temporarily left some packages outside his shop. Perhaps the Green council should be renamed B&H Mafia.

    • Steve Reply

      Fines are becoming very heavy handed. My brother left a small table base next to a recycling bin outside his house as people do in the area allowing others to benefit and he fully expected someone to make use of it. He was aware that cameras patrolled the bins which had suffered drive by fly tipping. He was awoken before 7am and read his rights before receiving a £400 fine. It seems like the council have chosen easy targets as a money maker.

    • Jonathan Simons Reply

      That’s because they haven’t given themselves a pay rise – it’s literally fake news. Tories and Greens have never done that, it’s only Labour who divided up things to give themselves maximum money

  2. Greens Out Reply

    There is no WAY that this incompetent council can be trusted with £830 million pounds.

    No way.

    • Robbie Smith Reply

      Hundreds of councils up and down the country are facing bankruptcy. Many of those councils are Tory, some are Labour.

      One high profile case was Tory council Northamptonshire in 2019.

      Another one, Tory Barnet, famous for its massive outsourcing “Easy Council” is also facing bankruptcy in 2021.

      Brighton & Hove Council is not currently in danger of bankruptcy.

      Birmingham Council under Labour faced bankruptcy and had to sell many of its assets because of the massive cost of not paying women equal pay for years. The same for Glasgow.

      The Greens ensured that the council met its obligations to equal pay and ensured the council didn’t face a similar fate, something both the Tories and Labour in B&H kept kicking into the long grass.

      The biggest reason for many councils facing bankruptcy, is because successive Governments, including 11 years of Tory Governments have not addressed the elephant in the room, adult care, which is by far the single biggest cost for local authorities and rising. There needs to be a comprehensive strategy. So blame the Tories!

      So you can all take cheap shots at the Greens if you like, it is a free country, but you’ll may be disappointed to find that much of the city’s informed residents will continue to vote Green at every election.

  3. Robbie Smith Reply

    The highest profile council that has actually faced bankruptcy was Northamptonshire in 2019. That was a Tory council.

    Birmingham and Glasgow under Labour faced virtual bankruptcy because they never addressed the historic inequality of pay for women. Birmingham was forced to sell assets like the NEC centre to pay after losing in the courts.

    The Green Party made sure equal pay was achieved and saved B&H Council from the same fate as Birmingham and Glasgow. Before that, Labour and the Tories kept kicking the equal pay issue in the long grass. The Green Party was the only one to take proper responsibility.

    Hundreds of councils are now facing bankruptcy up and down the country due to the endless cuts to funding by the Tory Government. And because successive Governments, including the Tory Governments for the last 11 years have buried their head in the sand and ignored the growing adult care problem, which is the single biggest cost for any council.

    So you are free to blame everything on the Greens. But you may be disappointed to find many Brighton & Hove residents, especially educated and informed residents continue to vote Green as we have been doing for years, because we are aware of the deeper issues affecting local councils up and down the country.

  4. Simon Reply

    Why should we be expected to foot the bill for the Green Vanity projects which are causing increased congestion, pollution and making it harder for the disabled to access our city. They will kill this city in the end with their blinkered policies, making it harder for businesses to thrive and tourists to access our city. After which the council-tax payers will be expected to cover the shortfalls in their budget. Such a shame to see a once thriving Town turn into a slum city. Lewes Road and London Road were once nice (and popular) places to shop. Pity we have to wait another 2 years to show our views in an election when this council got in by default rather than democratic process.

    • Jonathan Simons Reply

      But it’s not vanity projects, it’s basic services like adult social care where the government have cut £110m a year from the city while costs increase so obviously the council has to fill the gap from somewhere.

  5. Chaz. Reply

    Anything on where the savings will be made?
    No, the Greens and Labour just want to spend, spend, spend.

    • Jonathan Simons Reply

      Read the budget papers – there’s about £10m of savings being made to balance the books. But if the tory government continue to cut the money going to the council then it’s obvious that someone is going to need to pay for basic services.

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