Brighton & Hove councillors agree to raise council tax by 4.99%

Graham Robson February 25, 2023

Brighton & Hove councillors have set the council’s budget for next year and agreed on what services £895 million will be spent.

Councillors have also pledged to invest more than £30 million on frontline services like children’s services, housing, public toilets, refuse and recycling, adult social care, trees, and sports and leisure facilities.

Nearly half of the £895 million package is money that can only be spent (ring-fenced) on funding for schools, public health, council housing and housing benefits.

The spending also includes hundreds of other services including transport and highways, libraries, museums, park and opens spaces.

The council says it will spend £2.4 million every day next year to provide services to residents, businesses and visitors.

At a budget meeting on Friday, February 23, it was agreed to raise council tax by 4.99%: 2.99% in general plus 2% solely for adult social care to provide services to vulnerable, disabled and frail older people.

The council says this is due to the government not increasing funding for adult social care.

The council also states council tax provides less than £1 in every £5 of what it spends on running services in the city. The rest comes from fees, charges, rents, business rates and other government grants.

Councillors also agreed on addressing a budget gap of more than £14 million fuelled by what the council describes as demand for services, high inflation, the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and a real terms decrease in government funding.

Council finance experts have also forecast further shortfalls of £44m over the following three years.

Town hall chiefs say this is the 14th year in a row the council has had to address a real terms government cut to its budget, totalling more than £110 million since 2010.

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty

Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “We’re making the tough decisions to keep our city moving forward. We are making the best of a bad situation.

“We’ll continue to lobby government with the loudest voices for the funding we know Brighton & Hove needs and deserves.

“We are united in our commitment for our communities and remain firmly focused on the important local issues affecting our city.

“Protecting the most vulnerable, creating jobs and helping to build a cleaner, healthier and greener future for Brighton and Hove.

“A planned, balanced budget from the team with the ideas to secure our city’s best interests.”

Cllr Hannah Allbrook

Deputy council leader Hannah Allbrooke added: “This has been an extremely difficult budget but we have still protected as many essential services as we can, including services for young people.

“We have also invested £30 million in council housing, temporary accommodation, adult social care, public toilets, refuse and recycling, our parks and open spaces, and sports and leisure facilities.”

Cllr Tom Druitt

Councillor Tom Druitt, the council’s joint finance lead, said: “After 14 years of austerity and £110m of annual funding wiped out, this is the most difficult budget this council has ever had to set.

“However, it is a balanced budget, giving our city confidence and stability to move forwards, and I truly believe that it is the least worst option.

“We call on the government to address the crisis in local authority funding before there is nothing left of these services at all.”

Cllr David Gibson

Councillor David Gibson, the council’s joint finance lead, said: “This is a painful budget. We have strived to protect as many jobs and services as possible and we are proud that unlike many other councils we still provide nurseries, libraries and youth services.

“Unlike other councils we are not facing bankruptcy, while at the same time we are putting £2.5m a year into warmer homes to tackle fuel poverty, have achieved 500 additional council homes and are the highest unitary council spend in the country on children and young people.

“There are difficult times ahead, but we have managed to keep the ship of council afloat for another year but without a change of national government policy its hard to see this go on much longer.”