Warren Morgan: Local taxpayers bearing the brunt of rising costs

Warren Morgan, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-170126-092210001
Warren Morgan, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-170126-092210001

As the dust settles on another council budget, at the town hall we are all looking to Westminster to see if the Government’s budget will do anything to ease the pressure on city and county councils who are struggling to meet rising social care costs.

As people live longer but with acute health conditions, costs are spiralling.

So far, Westminster has passed the costs on to the local taxpayer, by adding up to three per cent to council tax bills already increasing by two per cent because of cuts to council funding.

When bills land on doormats in April, residents of Brighton and Hove will not welcome a five per cent rise, and none of us voted for it with enthusiasm.

Nor did councillors in East Sussex, who also increased bills by five per cent, or West Sussex who increased by four per cent; the social care crisis hits all regardless of political persuasion.

In the city, council tax will raise far less than our social care bill costs, with hundreds more services to run besides those.

Despite that, and the ongoing cut of £100 million in funding from Government, we set a balanced budget.

The opposition parties put forward proposals to change just one per cent of it, but despite the Labour administration supporting the majority of changes suggested, Green and Conservative councillors still voted against the budget. That’s politics.

In my speech to council, which you can read in full at www.warren.morgan.wordpress.com, I spoke about how we are managing the council’s finances well, a fact recognised by our auditors who say we are delivering value for money for the taxpayer for the first time in many years.

I talked about how we are investing in our basic services, like new bins and better street lighting, and new revenue generating services like commercial waste collection that help us prevent cuts to Cityclean.

All this has helped us earn customer satisfaction scores 20 per cent higher than the previous Green council leadership.

So we are doing well despite rising pressures, despite Government cuts, despite a hostile opposition on the council, and are being recognised for it by auditors and residents.

We continue to focus on getting the basics right, supporting the most vulnerable in our city, and growing our economy so everyone can benefit.

Cllr Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.