What is a local council budget?

Each year the city council sets out spending plans for vital Council-run public services. This involves looking at how much money the council is able to raise. And what services need to be provided and what investments would be of value to their community.

As the party running Brighton & Hove City Council (although we are still minority-run), we have set out our budget proposals. These are then put to all Councillors of all parties to vote. However, this year’s budget is extremely challenging and a number of heart-breakingly difficult decisions need to be made.


  1. Where does the money come from?
  2. What are the details of savings?
  3. What can I do?
  4. Frequently asked questions
  5. Where can I read the proposals?
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Where does the money come from?

Local councils receive funding primarily from government grants. Some money is also raised from council tax and business rates and other fees and charges. Government grants are usually allocated to specific services, and councils have to use the money as directed.

Whilst government funding is decreasing every year, the cost of care for the most vulnerable adults and elderly people who need care is increasing every year. Brighton and Hove has lost more than £110m annual Government funding since 2010. On top of this, we have had to make an additional £110m in savings. Unlike central government, local councils cannot borrow money and have to set a balanced budget, so there is a growing challenge to continue to balance the books. This means that councils are forced to increase council tax as well as other fees you pay for council services.

What are the details?

Developing these proposals has been incredibly challenging. With over £110m of annual funding stripped out of our budget by the Tory government over the last 10 years, and the backdrop of increasing demand – the situation is more difficult than ever before. This year’s budget means we have to find over £20m in savings, on top of £200m the council has had to find since 2010.

Across the country services are closing. More than 100 libraries are closing each year due to tory cuts; and Sport England have warned that almost 2000 public swimming pools could be lost forever.  

Greens have been relentless in finding innovative and viable ways to protect the services that are the most important to Brighton and Hove residents, and to find solutions to the damning demands of the economic situation. Despite this backdrop, we have fought to save services from closure while still investing in our city.  This means that we have been able to save services such as:


Leisure Centres

Youth Services

However, we are unfortunately being pushed into making some really difficult savings. This meant that some council-run services like nurseries and toilets were proposed to be cut but we have found the resources to save them for at least one more year.

Greens are working as hard as we can to protect the most vulnerable and take the least-worst options of those available. But sadly the reality is, after 13 years of Tory Government there are little easy choices left.

The latest budget proposals mean that:

  • Vital public services will continue to be funded. For example, public toilets will not be cut; high-footfall locations will stay open and sites that were already closed are being reviewed for reopening, as we also do work to make toilets in cafes and other contexts accessible to the public;
  • Environmental efforts such as the Carbon Neutral Investment Programme and tree planting will be maintained;
  • Libraries, parks, and public spaces are staying open, with improvements to children’s play areas;
  • From nurseries to adult care facilities to Disabled Facilities Grants to help maintain people in their homes, services for the most vulnerable have been protected;
  • Supported bus routes will continue, along with the Local Transport Plan to support sustainable transport and transport infrastructure;
  • Investment into the infrastructure and look of our city will continue to draw tourists and businesses to our shores;
  • Investment of £2.5 million in warmer homes for renters and homeowners facing the cost-of-living crisis;
  • Building new affordable housing, becoming the biggest provider of affordable rented housing in the city, and providing over 200 additional council homes in 23/24;
  • Council tax will be double charged on second homes when the council gets the right to do so;
  • Working to minimise the total amount of job losses. Councillors’ allowances are being frozen, and both the Mayor’s office and Council Senior Management are having to make significant savings.

While there are some points of relief, there will be many more points of hurt. Work will continue with trade unions to completely remove the need for job losses, but that these may yet be unavoidable. There are reductions in services, both now and in the future. The city sadly needs to prepare for tough days ahead.

What you can do

#GIVEITBACK Brighton & Hove marks an unprecedented act of solidarity, as for the first time in the city, local unions and the employer – comprising both the Green and Labour Group of Councillors – have come together to speak in one voice to demand a reversal of cuts to local services and local government worker pay.

Please click the link below to find out more about the campaign and sign the petition. Join the #GiveItBack campaign


Frequently asked questions

Why do you have to make savings?Expand

Unlike Government, we have to set a balanced budget by law. Each year, the ‘cost pressures’ are going up for the council. This includes more adults needing social care and the number of children with Education Health & Care Plans (EHCP). These are statutory services that we have to provide.

This year we are also experiencing extreme inflation, like many households are too.

In order to provide these services, we therefore have to make savings on non-statutory services to make our budget balance.Why have you spent money on this thing (eg cycle lanes)?Expand

There is a difference between capital budgets and revenue budgets. Revenue budgets are things we have to spend on every year. Capital budgets are one-off, often big costs.

A lot of capital projects are funded by Government grants which have to be used for that specific purpose. Cycle lanes are an example of this as is Kingsway to the Sea and the Western Road Improvement programme.

This means if we didn’t build these projects there would not be more money for council services like recycling and parks.Is this not your fault as the largest party running the council?Expand

Our budget crisis is down to 13 years of Tory Government austerity where they are engaging in a controlled demolition of public services.

Many of these public services in other councils across the country have already been lost. And many other councils are facing even more stark financial challenges than Brighton & Hove. Councils like Croydon have had to issue Government with a Section 114 (bankruptcy) notice.Can you refuse to make cuts?Expand

If we do not make savings, then they will be made for us by Government. Councils who cannot balance their books face severe consequences, which includes closing all non-statutory services including public toilets.Why am I paying more council tax?Expand

Council tax funds less than 20% of our services. But it is one of only a limited number of ways councils can raise money.

On top of making savings to reduce cost pressures, we are also raising council tax and our fees and charges, to replace the share being cut by Government. This means that each year council tax has to cover a higher proportion of the council’s budget.How do you select which services to save?Expand

We rate our savings against a list of priorities:

  • financial sustainability
  • building community wealth
  • tackling the climate crisis
  • addressing housing & homelessness crisis
  • supporting a diverse & welcoming city
  • health & wellbeing
  • Supporting those facing the impacts of austerity

This is a difficult balance to achieve and we acknowledge that sadly some of the savings will have a detrimental effect on communities. All savings proposed have an equalities impact assessment carried out and consultation is made with staff, trade unions, other political parties, residents, business and stakeholders such as the community & voluntary sector.

There are certain services that the council has to run by law (these are called statutory services). These are services we cannot cut, so the other services that are not statutory have to be considered. Examples of non-statutory services include public toilets and nurseries.What can the council do to improve finances?Expand

We have limited ways we can improve our finances. This year the Government have permitted councils to raise council tax by just under 5%. We are also able to raise our fees and charges (such as parking permits) and we can get some external grants (although these are mostly for capital projects rather than revenue. Some of the problem is caused by the reduction of the revenue support grant- the main government grant that councils use to fund services, known as the revenue support grant

There are some areas we cannot touch. We cannot touch budgets where a service is statutory (like providing care for children in care or adult social care). And there are other budgets where money comes in from Government but goes straight out such as schools funding and housing benefit.

Therefore this leaves us with the option of making difficult savings.Is the council going bankrupt?Expand

No, however are finances are in a bad state due to tory government imposed cuts and economic crises. A recent external report rated our finances as red, recognising the real pressure the council is under. We fear that a Section 114 notice (see above) is possible in future years, so we are making the difficult choices now in order to prevent the city going bankrupt.Why were you proposing closing public toilets?Expand

Following extensive public consultation across the city it is clear that toilet closures are something residents want to prioritise, so we are proposing to take the money from the city’s capital investment programme to pay for them. This means that some investments in that programme will have to happen later, and others not at all; not an ideal solution but one that in the circumstances we believe reflects the city’s priorities.Are you closing nurseries?Expand

Our first draft proposals included the closure of Bright Start nursery because the council no longer has the money to keep it open. However, by making difficult decisions on capital projects, we have ensured that the nursery will continue to be funded for one additional year. This means that all current children will be able to finish before starting school. No other proposals to cut nursery provision were made, but we will continue to look for better ways to deliver nursery provision to enable our nurseries to be more sustainable in the future.


You can read the proposals on the council website.

These proposals will change between now and the end of budget council at the end of February. Read the latest budget proposals Stay up-to-date by signing up to our email newsletter

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