At the Policy and Resources Committee last Thursday (1 December), the true scale of the financial crisis facing the council became clear.
Currently, the council is suffering an overspend of more than £11 million in this financial year, with a recruitment freeze for all but the most critical jobs in place for the rest of the year.
The pressures of 12 years of Tory funding cuts and the crisis in social care funding have combined alongside increasing pay costs and raging inflation to put the council perilously close to the brink financially.
These pressures are only made worse by the announcement that more than £19 million of savings will be required in next year’s budget.
These threaten to lead to drastic cuts such as the closure of council nurseries in the most disadvantaged communities, cuts to basic services and the loss of important youth programmes.
In previous years, the worst impacts of the funding crisis have been reduced by using council reserves.
But the level of reserves now available to the council are dwindling and there can be no doubt that the next few months will see the worst reduction in council services in living memory.
Combined with the current cost of living crisis, these will leave all residents seeing and feeling the effects daily and it threatens the safety of our most vulnerable residents.
Brighton and Hove Labour councillors have already demanded additional officer input into solving these problems, instigating a full review of the council’s assets including its investment portfolio to free up vital cash to try to reduce the burden of cuts on residents.
Now is the time for all councillors of all parties to play their part and put aside party politics for the good of the city.
There is no doubt that difficult decisions are coming and we desperately need to ensure that the Green administration gets a grip of the scale of the problem sooner rather than later.
It is no solution to kick difficult decisions into the long grass because delays will only increase the scale of the cuts in future years.
We are determined to steady the ship now and, if elected to run the council in 2023, to take further bold action to stop overspending and ensure the council continues to strive to deliver the highest possible levels of public services for the benefit of the many, not the few.
Councillor Daniel Yates is the former Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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