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Rising costs putting councils in 'serious difficulty' says Brighton and Hove boss

Brighton and Hove City Council will struggle without a change in national policy, its leader has warned.

The council’s services cost almost £2.1m to run each day, and when the initial budget proposals for 2018-19 were released last November, Cllr Warren Morgan, the leader of the council, raised concerns that local authorities “were close to breaking point.”

Income from council tax funded just 17% of the 2017-18 budget, and government grants partially fund the budget, which the council says have been reducing over recent years.

The Revenue Support Grant has been reduced by £42m over the past three years and by a further £7.5m in 2018-19.

The latest budget proposal puts forward an increase of council tax by 5.99%, including a social care precept increase of 3%, which the council says is largely due to the increasing demand for social care as well as reducing grants.

In order to reduce costs, the council says that it is changing the way that it is being run, and next year may see the equivalent of 90 posts being removed, including senior management posts, some of which are currently vacant, and some are expected to become vacant through turnover.

Consideration is being given to outsourcing the two remaining supported living services for adults with learning disabilities in the area, which, combined with further efficiencies, the council expects to save over £1.2m.

Reductions in spending on children’s safeguarding and care of over £2.7m have been proposed, including through a review of staffing structures a reduced demand for social work services following a new model of social work which was introduced in October 2015.

However, the proposals include an additional £3m, for children’s social care services to support the increasing demands and costs of caring for those in care, as well as an extra £6m for adult social care costs.

Cllr Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Like all councils, the money we get from government is being cut while our costs are going up.

“Here in Brighton & Hove we've taken action to keep services going and keep redundancies to an absolute minimum.”

He continued: “Elsewhere the rapidly rising cost pressures of social care are pushing councils into serious difficulty.

“This is despite many councils having to impose significant council tax rises because of the cuts.

“Our four-year financial plan means we are managing for now, but we can't continue like this for very long without a change in policy nationally.”

The council leader concluded: “Meanwhile our budget proposals for the coming year ensure that once again we are protecting services for our most vulnerable residents, getting basic services right for our communities, and growing our local economy so that everyone benefits.”

Top image: oversnap

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