Council tax rise is ‘unnecessary’ say Brighton and Hove Conservatives

The Argus: Conservative party leader Geoffrey Theobald at The Argus Council Tax Debate Conservative party leader Geoffrey Theobald at The Argus Council Tax Debate

Conservatives have branded a council tax rise “unnecessary” after two reports described council services as expensive.

Party leader Geoffrey Theobald is calling for the authority to make efficiency savings after comparisons were made with neighbouring authorities.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Green administration is proposing a 4.75% increase in council tax, which it claims will protect care services for the most vulnerable.

They say the increase is necessary with inflation rising and money from central government falling.

The Conservative group are pushing for a freeze in rates, proposing money should instead be clawed back from existing services.

Speaking at The Argus Council Tax Debate, Coun Theobald referenced two reports, both of which described council services as expensive compared to neighbouring authorities.

He said: “We believe that there is still plenty of scope for the council to deliver efficiency savings without adverse impacts on frontline services.

“The council’s independent auditors continue to assess our services as expensive compared to other similar councils.

“Adult social care services are just one example of that, as the council officers’ report clearly demonstrates.”

The first report, drawn up for the authority’s policy and resources committee in December, described in-house services as not providing value for money.

It also said many comparable councils no longer offered in-house services in an attempt to save cash.

The second report was conducted externally by Ernst and Young in September last year.

Their auditors said the council “remains high spending compared to its statistical nearest neighbour”.

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They concluded spend per head was particularly high for children’s and housing services, where it is in the top 5% of comparable authorities.

However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities.

He added: “We have maintained our social care eligibility criteria to those with moderate need, ensured quality service and retained in-house provision for those with the most demanding needs. That does carry with it some costs, but the Government is going to force all councils to meet moderate need soon anyway.

“We believe our approach is the right one for our residents who depend on these vital services.

“We are committed to protecting quality social care whilst acknowledging that we will need to keep changing how we deliver it to cope with growing demand and shrinking budgets.”

Comments (12)

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11:31am Thu 13 Feb 14

Fight_Back says...

"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ! Fight_Back

11:37am Thu 13 Feb 14

s_james says...

Fight_Back wrote:
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
Yes he has, in the next paragraph!
[quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: "However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ![/p][/quote]Yes he has, in the next paragraph! s_james

11:46am Thu 13 Feb 14

Andy R says...

Fight_Back wrote:
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
Er......yes he has.

Go back and read it properly.
[quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: "However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ![/p][/quote]Er......yes he has. Go back and read it properly. Andy R

12:04pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Fight_Back says...

Andy R wrote:
Fight_Back wrote:
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
Er......yes he has.

Go back and read it properly.
Er .... no he hasn't. He's explained why the service costs what he does but not why it is unfair to compare the cost with other authorities. You have read into his statement that it's because our council supply a higher level of service than those it was compared to but he makes no such statement. He wants you to think that with his clever use of words.
[quote][p][bold]Andy R[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: "However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ![/p][/quote]Er......yes he has. Go back and read it properly.[/p][/quote]Er .... no he hasn't. He's explained why the service costs what he does but not why it is unfair to compare the cost with other authorities. You have read into his statement that it's because our council supply a higher level of service than those it was compared to but he makes no such statement. He wants you to think that with his clever use of words. Fight_Back

1:07pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Warren Morgan says...

The Conservatives running East Sussex County Council don't think it unnecessary - they put up council tax by 2% yesterday. So have Tory-run Kent and Surrey Councils. Our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner is putting her part of the council tax up by 3.6%.

If Cllr Theobald is so keen on savings, why did the Conservative administration he was a part of put up council tax by above inflation levels from 2007-11? They froze it, yes, just weeks before the elections.

Savings can be made, but because the Tory government is cutting over £100 million from our funding this year and next, the savings have to be passed on to Eric Pickles , not Brighton and Hove residents.

Inflation is at 2% and council costs are rising by at least that much. That's why dozens of Tory councils are rejecting the freeze and going for 2%. That's why we should do the same.
The Conservatives running East Sussex County Council don't think it unnecessary - they put up council tax by 2% yesterday. So have Tory-run Kent and Surrey Councils. Our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner is putting her part of the council tax up by 3.6%. If Cllr Theobald is so keen on savings, why did the Conservative administration he was a part of put up council tax by above inflation levels from 2007-11? They froze it, yes, just weeks before the elections. Savings can be made, but because the Tory government is cutting over £100 million from our funding this year and next, the savings have to be passed on to Eric Pickles , not Brighton and Hove residents. Inflation is at 2% and council costs are rising by at least that much. That's why dozens of Tory councils are rejecting the freeze and going for 2%. That's why we should do the same. Warren Morgan

2:04pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Thay Qon U says...

I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target.

This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget.

I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'.

Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid.
I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target. This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget. I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'. Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid. Thay Qon U

2:10pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Thay Qon U says...

Thay Qon U wrote:
I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target.

This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget.

I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'.

Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid.
OOPs! That should read "as at 31st Jan 2014" not 2013.
[quote][p][bold]Thay Qon U[/bold] wrote: I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target. This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget. I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'. Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid.[/p][/quote]OOPs! That should read "as at 31st Jan 2014" not 2013. Thay Qon U

2:41pm Thu 13 Feb 14

daveww says...

well they would say that, they are not interested in the poor. No votes there for them. Shows they have no mral standing
well they would say that, they are not interested in the poor. No votes there for them. Shows they have no mral standing daveww

3:21pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Bill in Hanover says...

s_james wrote:
Fight_Back wrote:
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
Yes he has, in the next paragraph!
Actually he hasn't, he has used political-speak to explain why he wants to increase the tax but doesn't mention anything about comparing B&H to neighbouring Councils, unless he is insinuating that neighbouring Councils don't look after their needy and vulnerable.
[quote][p][bold]s_james[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: "However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ![/p][/quote]Yes he has, in the next paragraph![/p][/quote]Actually he hasn't, he has used political-speak to explain why he wants to increase the tax but doesn't mention anything about comparing B&H to neighbouring Councils, unless he is insinuating that neighbouring Councils don't look after their needy and vulnerable. Bill in Hanover

3:53pm Thu 13 Feb 14

fredflintstone1 says...

Thay Qon U wrote:
I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target.

This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget.

I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'.

Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid.
This is scandalous, and provides further indisputable evidence of the Green's failings when it comes to financial management.

Surprised the other parties haven't raised it. What about this, Warren?
[quote][p][bold]Thay Qon U[/bold] wrote: I'm not convinced that the (1.96%) increase in Council Tax for this financial year was actually necessary - the latest collection figures show that as at 31st Jan 2013 there is a short-fall of 1.37% against BHCC's own Council Tax monthly collection target. This equates to a short-fall in local income of some £1,640,000 in this year's budget. I have not seen any evidence that the staff payroll/wages is not being met each month, so can only assume that the increase was not actually required in order to 'balance the budget'. Having read through the 'Budget' Committee reports, there is also a lack of information about how much collection of the historic, previous years accumulated debt of Council Tax (which at March 2013 was reported to amount to some £16,500,000) has been undertaken to address any current & future 'budget gap' issues by collecting this 'local taxation' income that remains unpaid.[/p][/quote]This is scandalous, and provides further indisputable evidence of the Green's failings when it comes to financial management. Surprised the other parties haven't raised it. What about this, Warren? fredflintstone1

7:46pm Thu 13 Feb 14

jimpy762 says...

Keep cutting the bloated, top heavy and frankly useless public sector until they eventually learn that their free and easy flippancy with other peoples' hard earnt money, which they play no part in generating, is vulgar and insulting to those who graft for it and then watch it being spunked on nothing tangible. Sick of **** ups, cover ups, payoffs, inefficiency and the self entitled squealing from people who could be a million miles better at their jobs like the rest of us have to be if we expect to keep them. I want to see real value for my money before I agree to throw any more on other peoples pensions that I can't afford for myself. The so called services appear to mainly serve those that get paid to provide them without actually doing so. Brilliant trick but enough is enough.
Get with the programme lefties, the electorate are pretty fed up with getting screwed to fund your personal lifestyles and **** eyed ideaology.
Small state, low tax please, most people footing the bill would agree with me there.
Keep cutting the bloated, top heavy and frankly useless public sector until they eventually learn that their free and easy flippancy with other peoples' hard earnt money, which they play no part in generating, is vulgar and insulting to those who graft for it and then watch it being spunked on nothing tangible. Sick of **** ups, cover ups, payoffs, inefficiency and the self entitled squealing from people who could be a million miles better at their jobs like the rest of us have to be if we expect to keep them. I want to see real value for my money before I agree to throw any more on other peoples pensions that I can't afford for myself. The so called services appear to mainly serve those that get paid to provide them without actually doing so. Brilliant trick but enough is enough. Get with the programme lefties, the electorate are pretty fed up with getting screwed to fund your personal lifestyles and **** eyed ideaology. Small state, low tax please, most people footing the bill would agree with me there. jimpy762

12:18pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Andy R says...

Fight_Back wrote:
Andy R wrote:
Fight_Back wrote:
"However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities."

Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones !
Er......yes he has.

Go back and read it properly.
Er .... no he hasn't. He's explained why the service costs what he does but not why it is unfair to compare the cost with other authorities. You have read into his statement that it's because our council supply a higher level of service than those it was compared to but he makes no such statement. He wants you to think that with his clever use of words.
Er...yes he has.

It clearly IS misleading to compare BHCC to neighbouring authorities whose services do need meet the same level of need. A service which meets moderate need is obviously going cost more than a service which does not reach down as far as moderate need. Any fool can reduce costs by cutting service levels.
[quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andy R[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: "However, council leader Jason Kitcat said it was misleading to compare neighbouring authorities." Kitcat hasn't explained why it's misleading. It's strange how he was very happy to make comparisons when it came to justifying the 20mph zones ![/p][/quote]Er......yes he has. Go back and read it properly.[/p][/quote]Er .... no he hasn't. He's explained why the service costs what he does but not why it is unfair to compare the cost with other authorities. You have read into his statement that it's because our council supply a higher level of service than those it was compared to but he makes no such statement. He wants you to think that with his clever use of words.[/p][/quote]Er...yes he has. It clearly IS misleading to compare BHCC to neighbouring authorities whose services do need meet the same level of need. A service which meets moderate need is obviously going cost more than a service which does not reach down as far as moderate need. Any fool can reduce costs by cutting service levels. Andy R

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