Brighton to brace itself for £24 million council cuts

Cllr Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-161130-165515001

Cllr Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-161130-165515001

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‘Painful’ decisions will be made on how to close a multi-million pound budget gap in the next financial year, according to the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

This afternoon (November 30), Cllr Warren Morgan revealed Labour’s budget proposals for 2017/18.

Brighton and Hove City Council will need to make £24 million cuts to balance the books in the next financial year.

It will do so by cutting youth services, around 140 jobs, moving the Royal Pavilion and Museums into a Trust, and making further cuts to the City Parks budget.

And taxpayers will be asked to pay an extra 3.99 per cent on their council tax bill - two per cent of which will go towards the ever-expanding adult social care budget.

Cllr Morgan said: “Next year our council tax income is going to be around £125 million. The money we spend on social care is £150 million. I think that might put in context the scale of the challenges that we’re facing.

Hove Town Hall

Hove Town Hall

“But I wouldn’t want people to feel that we are alone in this, that this is some local circumstance, it’s being felt around the country. Massive cuts are being made in other authorities. We are by no means the worst, but we’re quite a long way from being one of the better off. We’re roughly in the middle of what is a very painful situation.”

The reason behind the sweeping cuts - which come after a similar £25 million saving in the current financial year - is the decreasing government grants given to councils.

For 2017/18, Brighton and Hove City Council will receive £11 million less than it did this year. And in the ten years leading up to 2020, it would have seen a £140 million reduction in government grants.

The majority of the council’s funding comes from government grants - only 16 per cent of the council’s income comes from council tax - and not only that, but 40 per cent of the cash the council does get from the government is ring-fenced, whether it’s for schools or housing benefits.

So there’s a smaller pool of which to make the savings. Cllr Morgan said: “There are no easy cuts or simple solutions.”

But there is some good news. The council’s recent move to Hove Town Hall, and the sale of Kings House will save the authority £2 million a year.

Children’s centres, learning disability and child protection services are set to be protected, and no libraries are set to close.

And Cllr Morgan said the council would invest in its digital services to allow people to access services online, but also ‘free up front-line staff to deal with people who aren’t online’.

The budget proposals will go before the council’s policy, resources and growth committee on Thursday (December 8). A final decision on the 2017/18 budget will be made at Full Council next year.

To find out more, visit: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/bhbudget