THE council leader has warned it will be “no easy task” to deliver services in the year ahead due to a budget shortfall of almost £15 million.

Following the government’s Spending Review, Brighton and Hove City Council is still estimating its budget shortfall to be between £13.039 million and £14.839 million.

The council said the shortfall is due to the impact of coronavirus and the rising demand and costs of adult and children’s social care services, as well as the rising costs of homelessness.

Council leader Phelim MacCafferty said: “This year we are facing not only the knock-on effect of more than a decade of cuts to local government but the financial reality of a global pandemic.

The Argus:

“Covid-19 has seen the council’s finances put under even more strain. While our spend has increased to buy things like protective equipment, our income from sources such as parking has dropped.

“Our priority in this perilous financial time is to make sure residents are provided with services they need and to ensure the most marginalised have the safety net of local services.

“This is no easy task. We will explore all options for balancing the budget and delivering where most needed.”

In total, the council estimates the total cost of services for the year ahead to be £30 million.

The government has allowed councils which provide adult social care to increase council tax by three per cent. Council tax in Brighton and Hove could rise by 4.99 per cent, if the Adult Social Care Precept and the usual 1.99 per cent rise are both taken up.

The government announced between £14.1 million and £15.9 million additional resources for the council, including the Adult Social Care Precept.

But Cllr MacCafferty said Chancellor Rishi Sunak had only given short term ways to deal with the budget shortfall, and said this “shifts the burden onto council tax payers, which isn't fair and doesn’t deal with the long term nature of the funding gap”.

The Argus:

An initial report on the budget will go to the Policy and Resources committee tomorrow and final decisions will be made at the Budget Council in February.

The government will finalise and announce its funding for local authorities for the next financial year in mid-December.

Cllr MacCafferty added: “We are dedicated to making the city a better place through our continued commitment to house building, reducing toxic emissions and sustainable travel.

"In this Covid budget we will be doing all we can to prevent the spread of the pandemic, protecting the vulnerable and supporting our economy.

“This is a city to be proud of and the budget is the way we plan how to deliver essential services for all our residents.”