24 February 2017
Work from the Green Group of Councillors to reverse some of the worst elements of cuts to the city’s budget has been supported by all parties in Brighton and Hove City Council. The Green Group of Councillors urged all parties to work harder to save vital services across the city, calling for a joint amendment to save the Youth Service and rescue some elements of cuts to early help, supported buses for the elderly, the community safety team and the third sector. Yet the Group have condemned the overall budget for the city, which will force through more than £20m of cuts across key frontline services and voted against its implementation during a meeting of Budget Council yesterday evening.
The budget as finally agreed will see huge losses to key frontline services. The Council’s own assessment of the impact of these cuts have stated that the plans are likely to deeply increase inequality in the city and affect many who are already vulnerable, such as those on low incomes, children and the elderly.
Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors, Phélim Mac Cafferty, stated:
“We worked long and hard to find extra funds that could protect key services such as the Youth Service and it’s heartening that all parties agreed to work together with us to stop some of the worst cuts. But we can hardly be comforted to know that this budget is now going ahead. It hands down over £20m of cuts and will hit our vulnerable residents the hardest.
“The city will now face huge reductions and losses of services like mental health support, substance misuse work, over £112k is going from our sexual health and HIV budgets and support for all of our fantastic community and third sector groups is now threadbare. This is unacceptable.
“Opposition parties can only make amendments and we worked hard to show the Labour Council that preventative services are a necessity and save money down the line. We are glad that there will be small but positive changes as a result of amendments but we cannot endorse this punishing, harsh, cuts budget and will continue to push to protect the city’s most vulnerable residents.”
Amendments put forward by the Green Group received cross-party backing and will see extra money for temporary housing for the homeless, the continuation of supported buses for the elderly and funding put back into Community safety, third sector and family and parenting budgets. However the Green Group, through a proposals document, argued that an additional £2m could have been found by the Council through adopting an approach that focuses on preventative services and ‘spending to save,’ setting out how to identify this money in a budget proposal document.