OPINION

Residents rise to growing challenges we all face as government funding dwindles

Posted On 27 Nov 2022 at 12:05 am

Thursday 24 November was carers’ rights day – an appropriate day to join a meeting of the newly formed Brighton and Hove Care Co-operative.

I was very happy to hear about progress made and am looking forward to the future when a brand new care model in the city will be developed. As one of the board members said: “There has to be a better way”.

A couple of weeks ago Peter Kyle MP and I attended a local event addressing the climate crisis. I spoke about transport initiatives in the city including active travel infrastructure, bus service improvements and the plans for a “mini Holland” scheme.

Residents and businesses spoke passionately about their sustainable food and toy businesses, as well as community composting and much more.

This was a great example of bringing people together to discuss already existing local initiatives and share what is going on locally in what is already in many ways a “20-minute neighbourhood” around Portland Road.

I also attended a transport event organised by Hove Civic Society, discussing 20-minute neighbourhoods, the Local Transport Plan and walking and cycling initiatives.

Both events served as a reminder that the Bus Service Improvement Plan will be crucial to cutting traffic and improving access to the city centre.

The Policy and Resources Committee meeting on Thursday (1 December) will have some grim messages for us.

The Chancellor’s autumn statement did little to solve the funding crisis in local government after 12 years of swingeing cuts to council budgets.

Instead of properly funding councils – so that they can deliver vital services to those in need – the government has ordered local authorities to raise council tax further, hitting the poorest hardest and making us all pay the price for the Tories crashing the economy.

Instead of taking responsibility for the chaos they’ve wreaked, they’re passing the buck and forcing the difficult decisions on to local authorities.

Councils have already lost 60p out of every £1 since 2010, and now this Tory government wants to cripple them further.

I fear that across the country it will be our high streets, our youth services, our community centres and our social care that bear the cost.

The critical services that councils run are in dire need of investment from central government.

Here in Brighton and Hove there is a massive hole in our finances this year which, if not managed, will haunt us for years to come, as well as a further gap next year which could have serious consequences.

As long as the demand for council services increases, and proper funding from national government is not forthcoming, locally a responsible approach to financial management is required with difficult decisions to be made – but more on this topic next week.

Councillor Carmen Appich is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

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