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Without a council tax rise, further Government cuts will push Brighton and Hove to breaking point

 

  • Reckless Labour and Tory backing for previous tax freezes and against a referendum has lost city services over £10 million
  • Greens are the only party committed to keeping public essential services running

Thanks to Government cuts of £18 million as part of the Coalition’s brutal austerity agenda, and growing pressure on services, Brighton & Hove City Council faces a budget shortfall of some £25 million for the coming year. These cuts are forcing councils across the country into a situation where essential services can no longer be protected.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Green Administration are committed to ensuring essential services continue to deliver for everyone. As part of their plans to address the council’s intense budget pressures, the minority Green Administration have proposed a council tax rise of 5.9% to help protect essential public services needed by the city’s population. Under government rules this would require a referendum of Brighton & Hove residents, which to save costs would be held on the same day as elections already planned for May 2015.

A 5.9% increase is equivalent to £1.48 extra per week for a band D household. This is 99p more per week than the 1.9% default increase assumed to be Labour’s preference. There will continue to be a council tax reduction scheme in place to support the 17,000 households with the lowest incomes.

Council Leader Jason KitcatLeader of the Council, Jason Kitcat said:
“This coming year we face the biggest cuts to the council budget so far in this Government’s relentless austerity programme. Council budgets have unfairly borne the brunt of the government’s cuts. Still we are committed to delivering essential public services for our citizens. However to do this we do need to raise council tax to ensure those services can keep going as demand continues to grow while budgets shrink. ”

Councillor Sue ShanksChair of Children and Young Peoples Committee, Sue Shanks commented:
“The council has a responsibility to the children of Brighton and Hove, to ensure that they are given the very best start in life. Child poverty is increasing under this government and council services such as children’s centres, youth services and libraries provide an important lifeline for families. We want to ensure these valued services can keep delivering because every child matters.”

Councillor Ollie SykesLead Member for Finance, Ollie Sykes said: “An increasing population and decreasing funding for councils will lead to an approximately £70m deficit in the council budget over the coming years unless we act.

“We must keep finding ways to be more efficient and raise more income to keep up the level of essential services our citizens deserve. A council tax rise of 5.9% will bring in an extra £6 million. Money that can be spent on keeping open adult social care, disability services, parks, children’s services and women’s refuge centres.

“We very much hope that the Brighton and Hove Labour party will not use Tory rhetoric to try to block this proposal. It is the hard-working families they like to mention who, among others, are being penalised by these unfair government cuts. It would be great if Labour voted with us on this, to show that they really are committed to providing frontline services. If they had voted with us in previous years we could have had an extra £10 million to inject into public services. They have a chance now to show the people of Brighton and Hove that they care.”

Notes

The budget reports can be viewed on the council’s website here: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=689&MId=5085

The decision being taken at July’s Policy & Resources Committee meeting is setting out the principles for the 2015/16 budget. Specific draft proposals will be worked on by council officers over the coming months, with a view to being published in early December 2014.

For more information, contact Lianne de Mello, Political Assistant to the Green Group of Councillors on 01273 291165

 

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