A council tax increase of 5.9% is vital in a ‘make-or-break’ year for our city

Jason Kitcat (left) will go head to head again with Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the Conservative Group, and Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group
Jason Kitcat (left) will go head to head again with Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the Conservative Group, and Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group

Government cuts of £18 million and pressure on services means council faces £25m budget shortfall.

A combination of government cuts of £18 million and growing pressure on services means Brighton and Hove City Council faces a budget shortfall of some £25 million for the coming year.

In the context of our services, that is more than we spend in on all our libraries, homelessness services, parks, youth services, sports facilities, and development and environmental health services combined.

Across the country, essential services are being lost. But, here in Brighton and Hove, we are committed to ensuring local services continue to deliver for everyone.

We are saving huge amounts of money through re-arranging services, cutting our energy bills, and reducing our office space. But this does not scratch the surface of what the government has taken from our budget.

Independent figures released earlier this week show how councils face a "make-or-break" year, as a result of government cuts to councils’ funding and growing demand for services.

As part of our plans to address the council’s intense budget pressures, we have proposed a council tax rise of 5.9% to help protect essential public services needed our communities. Under government rules, this would require a referendum of Brighton and Hove residents, which - to save costs - would be held on the same day as elections already planned for May 2015.

It is not a proposal we have made lightly. A 5.9% increase is equivalent to £1.48 extra a week for a Band D household. The majority of people, however, would pay less than this - and there will continue to be a council tax reduction scheme in place to help the 17,000 households with the lowest incomes.

We feel it is crucial - in what everyone agrees is a make-or-break year - to give residents the chance to decide on the future the care homes, schools, parks, and other services that they use.