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05.12.16

Brighton and Hove announces swingeing cuts to save £24m

Brighton and Hove council has announced plans to cut 140 jobs and raise council tax by nearly 4% in an attempt to save £24m over the 2017/18 financial year.

The council’s budget proposals for 2017/18 to 2019/20 aim to make £51m cuts over the next three years, following the £97m already cut since 2011/12, with 300 jobs set to be lost overall.  A further 320 council roles are set to be transferred out to private firms, trusts or the voluntary sector.

Brighton’s proposals, which also include saving £750,000 by shutting down its non-statutory youth service and a £1.4m cut to sensory support for disabled adults, have been made as it attempts to tackle what it calls a funding ‘crisis’ caused by long-term government austerity measures.

Brighton and Hove Council leader Warren Morgan said: “This is the most difficult [budget] by far that the council has ever had to face under any administration. There are no easy measures, no simple solutions and no pain-free cuts left.

“We are moving as fast as we can [in reforming services] but we cannot keep up with the massive rate of cuts.”

The council also plans to outsource its accommodation service for adults with learning disabilities, which will save around £223,000, and hopes to save £700,000 by making cuts to its homelessness budget.

Its proposed council tax rise of 3.99%— which includes the 2% adult social care precept - is the most that can be imposed upon residents without holding a referendum. Unlike Liverpool council, which is considering a 10% rise in council tax to combat cuts, Morgan had previously ruled out a council tax rise over 4% due to its potential impact on low-income households.

Trade unions have already warned the council that it might face severe criticism if staff were to be forced out by budget cuts. GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “We haven’t had people made compulsorily redundant, people forced out by the budget before, but the day is coming close.

“If that’s the case I think you could see a winter of discontent because that is something that we will fight against and I know that Unison would do the same.”

As the council is Labour minority-led, the budget proposals will require the support of opposing Conservative or Green councillors in order to pass when councillors vote on the proposals next February.

However, the council’s Green contingent has already said that they will block the plans as they currently stand, with the council’s Green leader Phelim MacCafferty calling them “unacceptable”.

Brighton's announcement follows in the recent trend of councils looking to redundancies in order to balance the books, with Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon all considering job cuts over the coming years.

(Image c. My another account (talk)

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