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