The city faces one of its most difficult budgets with a multi-million-pound shortfall, the council leader has warned.

Phelim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said that the Green-led administration was forced to take “extremely tough decisions” in “challenging circumstances”.

A shortfall of £14 million is projected for the upcoming financial year, fuelled by demand for council services, high inflation, the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

Council bosses have also cited real-terms cuts to the budget from the government, with more than £110 million in funding withdrawn since 2010.

Cuts being proposed include reducing the number of lifeguard stations by 30 per cent, the closure of Mile Oak Library, scrapping two youth programmes and the reduction of opening hours at most libraries in the city.

Council tax will also increase by almost five per cent under plans being voted on by councillors later this month.

Despite the savings, the council has offered investment totalling more than £30 million to ensure essential services, including investment in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, temporary accommodation, increased maintenance and cleaning costs of public toilets, refuse and recycling services and sport and leisure facilities.

Cllr Mac Cafferty said the council is “doing everything we can to protect vital council services”.

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He said: “Over the next two weeks, councillors will decide how we will spend our budget, under some of the challenging circumstances we've faced as a city.

“We have invested more than £30 million in key services but very sadly have had to take extremely tough decisions on other areas of spending.

“This is one of the most difficult budgets the council has faced in my twelve years as a councillor and we’re doing everything we can to protect vital council services.

“We’ve been honest with the city by discussing the tough decisions and the complexity of the problems we face with our valued staff and trade unions, residents, partners, businesses and the city councillors from the other parties.”

Councillors will vote on the budget proposals in a special meeting on February 23.