Funding your local council services for the coming year is a huge challenge. Your council tax is proposed to increase by five per cent following the three per cent “precept” imposed by Government. However, council tax as a whole only raises just over £125 million, while the cost of providing social care tops £150 million. Somehow we have to pay for over seven hundred other services as well, from making sure restaurants are clean to emptying your bins. It’s no easy task, with no easy answers.
Despite having to make £21m in cuts because of another £12 million reduction in Government funding and increases in care costs, this week we have published a balanced budget. We have done it with no cuts to libraries, children’s centres, nurseries or front-line Cityclean staff.
We have made another £2m savings in management, on top of the £2 million achieved last year. Like many other councils, we have been forced to make big cuts to our youth services, but there will remain many important services for young people in the city. We will still be spending over £1.5 million pounds a year helping young people who have drink and drugs problems, keeping young people out of the criminal justice system and helping young people into work.
There will be funding to support the statutory requirements of advocacy work, with a particular focus on protected groups including BME, LGBT and disabled young people, and to help make the change to the new level of funding for youth services we have planned to make an additional £100,000 one-off funding available. The background to this budget is that within three years we will have lost almost £150 million in funding for your services from Government.
Social care costs are increasing rapidly, with more people living longer with acute health issues.
We need the Government to act to resolve this crisis before all of your services are put at risk. In the meantime we are doing our very best to get the basics right, protect the most vulnerable and grow our economy so everyone in Brighton and Hove benefits.
Cllr Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove Council