Greens plan over £8m of investment in contrast to Tory cuts proposals and ‘lack of ideas’ from Labour
Proposed changes to the Labour Council budget from the Greens could unlock millions of pounds to protect public services and boost climate change work, if accepted by a vote this Thursday.
The 2019-2020 city budget put forward by the Labour Council includes cuts to support for people with learning disabilities, sexual health services, substance misuse work and short breaks for carers - moves that Greens say will be ‘deeply damaging’ to communities already hit hard by national austerity cuts.
Opposition parties are only granted six amendments to the Labour Council’s budget proposals. However, Greens say a series of measure - such as challenging value for money in private contracts, removing parking perks for councillors and reviewing unspent budgets - will generate income to enhance the council’s budget without the need to 'rob' from one service budget to pay for another.
Greens propose to:
Reverse or significantly reduce cuts to:
- sexual health services
- substance misuse services
- residential, respite and short breaks for children with special educational needs
- day services for people with learning disabilities
- community and voluntary sector investment programme
- community transport for the elderly
- community safety
Boost budgets for:
- supported accommodation, and work to bring temporary and emergency accommodation ‘in-house’;
- climate change mitigation and sustainability work
- community clean up and anti-graffiti tagging work
- funding for furniture reuse and recycling to help tackle fly-tipping and support student action groups
You can read the proposals from Green Councillors in full here:
Further to previous Green work which revealed large sums of money for housing were going unspent, Greens also want to see £8m put back into housing budgets in order to establish council-owned emergency accommodation. A change that would save the council money and create a more stable, supportive service for vulnerable residents currently housed in the private sector. 
Green finance lead Councillor Ollie Sykes commented:
“Austerity continues to hack away at our communities and our residents are hammered year on year by cuts. The budget put forward by the Labour Council lacks the new ideas, energy or effort our city’s residents deserve. Green opposition proposals made within the constraints of Budget Council show the direction of travel for a new Green-led council for Brighton and Hove. Without making new cuts we have found resources to protect public health, day services, respite care and assisted travel for the elderly. We have found significant resources to protect our libraries and improve and enhance homeless accommodation, while reducing cost.
“Our budget ideas are affordable, protect essential services for people and the environment and enhance the city. And in a week when winter temperatures have gone above 20 degrees for the first time in recorded history – our proposals respond to the urgency and scale of the catastrophic damage being done to our environment. These are humane, affordable, forward-looking proposals in pursuit of Green values, that boost the financial resilience of the council and offer positive change to our residents.”
Convenor of the Green Group, Phélim Mac Cafferty added:
“A divided Labour has failed to do the best for our city and the shambolic Conservative Government still sees fit to slash local council budgets year on year, despite clear evidence of the damage this causes. Greens have identified funds for vital services without robbing one to pay for another, because as the Tories continue to drive home austerity, more than ever before we need local services that reach our most marginalised residents.
“This year’s Labour budget cuts funding for public services yet further. Greens have continued to try to reverse some of the worst elements, challenging cuts to budgets supporting people with learning disabilities, people recovering from substance misuse, vulnerable adults in precarious housing and services for people living with HIV.
“Our proposals are also a clarion call for our precious environment. Just weeks after we pushed the council to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency, we want to boost the resources our council has ready to tackle climate change and protect our natural habitats and species. We also want to address our city centre environment, and support our communities in tackling waste and graffiti tagging. We can only make six amendments to the budget but as in previous years, we continue to champion a new approach, guided by principles of prevention and protection for people and planet.”
Green Group Budget amendments in full:
 Greens push for Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget amendments: https://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/2019/02/13/green-emergency-housing-plan/