Council Budget 2015/16 - Briefing and FAQ

1) FAQs

What is the financial gap for the coming year?

For 2015/16 the budget gap is projected to be between £26.3m if there is a council tax freeze or £21.2m if there’s an increase in council tax of 5.9%.

£18m of this is a loss in government funding, with the rest being due to growing demand for services and inflation.

How much is this in context of services?

The gap we’re looking at for the coming year (about £26m) is more than the city spends in total on libraries (£5.78m), homelessness (£1.14m), parks (£5.75m), youth services (£2.2m), sports facilities and development (£1.99m), environmental health (£2.91m) all put together. See here for more info: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/brighton-hove.gov.uk/files/14-15%20Budget%20Book%20Complete.pdf

What about the history of council spending?
Council Tax increase

1998/99

9.8%

1999/00

7.2%

2000/01

12.5%

2001/02

6.0%

2002/03

10.9%

2003/04

14.5%

2004/05

7.7%

2005/06

4.8%

2006/07

4.9%

2007/08

4.8%

2008/09

3.9%

2009/10

3.5%

2010/11

2.5%

2011/12

0.0%

2012/13

0.0%

2013/14

1.96%

2014/15

1.96%

The table to the right shows historic council tax increases, with the colour indicating political control.

In real terms, the council has seen a 62% drop in core funding from the government since 2010, and a drop in council tax levels through council tax freezes or below-inflation increases.

Why don’t you just get rid of inefficiencies in the council?

Over the past few years we’ve been working on making the council more efficient, whether it’s reducing the pay and number of senior managers, cutting our energy and water bills, or halving the number of buildings we’re paying to run

What about spending on big projects like the i360 or cycle lanes? Where does the money from parking go?
  • i360: The council is acting as a middle-man for a government loan for the project. Government rules mean the money can’t be spent on everyday council services. However the council will receive approximately £1m in profit per year from the arrangement for 25 years, which will go towards supporting vital council services and protecting them from further government cuts.
  • Transport projects: A huge amount of the funding for major transport projects has come from government, EU or charity sources. We’ve managed to win some £24m from other sources for projects such the Lewes Road, Seven Dials, Valley Gardens and the Old Shoreham Road.
  • Parking charges: The vast majority of parking charges in Brighton & Hove have been frozen or reduced since 2012. The majority of this - £10m a year - goes towards paying for bus passes for elderly and disabled people. Any surplus is reinvested in transport projects like road maintenance and school crossings.
Why are you increasing council tax?

We know further cuts are coming – and meanwhile the numbers of people needing our services, as well as the cost of running services, are both going to rise.

Unlike other parties who denying the reality of the cuts yet to come, Greens are arguing for local services to be put on a more sustainable footing through new funding.

Council tax is an imperfect system, but is one of the few levers we have to raise funds for vital frontline services. Greens are asking people what it is they want to see protected, and will come to a view on a council tax proposal based on the public’s views. However it will be below some of the high council tax rises historically brought about by Labour administrations, including 14% in one year.

A 5.9% increase in council tax would approximately work out as follows:

WEEKLY DIFFERENCE

A

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

entitled to disabled relief reduction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015/16 at 5.9%

£0.83

£0.99

£1.16

£1.32

£1.49

£1.82

£2.15

£2.48

£2.98


How would a council tax referendum work?

Any council tax proposal would need to be agreed by one of the two other parties on the council. Should the council agree a council tax level above what the Secretary of State for Local Government decides, it will trigger a citywide referendum run according to rules set out by government. Currently this level is 2%, though it is subject to change depending on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December.

If agreed by full council, residents would be billed at the higher amount from the start of the financial year in April. The baseline cost of holding a referendum on the same day as the general and local elections on 6th May is currently estimated at about £150,000. If the referendum succeeds, then everything would proceed as planned. If it fell, then residents would be re-billed for a lower amount, probably 1.99%.

Might things change depending on the General Election result?

The Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems are all committed to cutting local government to the bone, ending all funding for local services by 2020. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is on record as saying that he would be ‘ruthless’ in cutting public spending

 

2) Background information (source: BHCC)

In 2015/16 alone we are losing £18m of core government grant funding.

Breakdown of council spending for current financial year 2014/15:

2014/15 budget allocations

Sources of funding for current financial year 2014/15:

Sources of budget funding 2014/15

The funding gap over the next five years:

Funding gap over the next five years

The combination of rising costs and government cuts means results by 2019/20 there will be a budget gap of £102.4m (assuming no change in council tax levels).

Join a growing party
Donate to the Green Party
Sign up to our email list
Connect:
Facebook Twitter YouTube