As your recently elected council leader, I’m excited about leading our council to face the challenges of climate change, the housing and homelessness crisis and austerity, while promoting equality in our city – but Government policy has been a major obstacle in front of us.
We now have a new Prime Minister, and the newspapers and television news are full of analysis about what this will mean.
So I’m very pleased to join with other Labour council leaders up and down the country who are writing to Boris Johnson to let him know what he should be doing.
As a former leader of the Greater London Authority (GLA) I’m hoping he understands very well the severe pressures local government is facing. Since 2010 around £100 million has been removed from the core government funding for Brighton and Hove.
While the Government has been taking money away from councils – 60p in every £1 we previously received – we have been facing an increasing demand for adult social care, a greater need to invest in services for our children and an unprecedented housing crisis.
These challenges cannot be met by small short-term pots of money designed merely to paper over the cracks for another year. This can’t go on.
Pay freezes have also meant that our hard-working council staff, who deliver our 700 services, have lost the equivalent of £1 of every £5 they earned nine years ago. Local government workers are now the lowest paid in the public sector.
In his campaign to become Prime Minister, Boris Johnson claimed he would bring our country together. But was this just empty rhetoric? If not, he must take immediate action to end austerity in local government, so we can start repairing the damage inflicted over the past nine years.
We need immediate investment of an additional £2bn in children’s services and £2bn in adult social care to stop services collapsing. Changes to the council funding formula, which have forced the biggest cuts on councils in the most deprived areas, must be reversed, and the next spending review must restore council funding to 2010 levels.
Only then shall we see if the Prime Minister really wants to unite our country.