Brighton and Hove has been “pushed closer to financial disaster” after Green councillors overspent the council’s budget by more than £3 million last year, figures show.

Statistics discovered by the new Labour council in Brighton and Hove show that the previous Green-led administration had burst the annual budget for the first time “in many years”.

The financial black hole left by the Green Party came to a total of £3.02 million - equivalent to around £11 for every person who lives in the city.

Labour councillors are so concerned by the overspending they are calling for external auditors to investigate the decisions made by the Green administration.


Councillor Jacob Taylor, deputy leader of the council and the council’s finance lead, said: “We already knew that the Greens had made awful financial decisions with the i360, but it’s now clear that they weren’t even able to manage the day-to-day spending of the council.

“The situation is so serious that I have asked officers to request that our external auditors investigate the decisions and budget monitoring of the previous administration.

“It is clear to me that senior Green councillors in the last administration ignored warnings from expert council officers and actually chose to spend more than the council could afford.

“Most of them are no longer councillors - so Labour is left to clean up the mess.”

Cllr Taylor said that the council is now in “a very serious position” and said the situation will force the council to dip into its reserves to cover the shortfall.

He said: “The council holds around £9 million as a working balance, which is the bare minimum that our chief finance officer believes we need to be financially stable.

“This overspend means we must use 30 per cent of our working balance.”

The Argus:

He also warned that the multi-million-pound budget black hole will force the new council to “make savings in almost every area of council spending”.

“We don’t know exactly where or how yet, but we will keep residents informed and listen to their views in order to help us do all we humanly can to keep Brighton and Hove the safe and fair city we promised,” Cllr Taylor said.

“We accept that massive cuts to local authority grants from central government have had a devastating effect on councils across the country, but even so, it is the duty and responsibility of our council to set a budget and stick to it.

“The financial incompetence of the Greens has left the council with a whopping £3 million blackhole and pushed the authority closer to financial disaster.”

Cllr Taylor explained that the overspend was confirmed by the Targeted Budget Monitoring Report, shortly to be presented to the strategy, finance and city regeneration committee.

Speaking to The Argus in February, the then Green council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty warned of “tough times ahead” due to more than a decade of austerity from the Conservative government.

Deputy leader of the Green group and the party's finance lead Cllr Sue Shanks described the announcement from the council as "political theatre" from Labour.

She said: "Last time there was an overspend was under Labour in 2019-20, who left us with a £2.821m projected overspend that Greens reversed. If Labour genuinely want to investigate the financial activities of the council, they will also submit their own previous administration to review.

"Unlike Labour in 2019, we faced unprecedented inflation last year, impacting a huge range of costs including staff wages and energy costs. We cut the resulting projected overspend of £11.637 million down to £3.02 million, whilst ensuring the most vulnerable communities and needed services were protected.

"Considering the circumstances, withdrawing £3 million from reserves of £37.1 million, to be paid back over the next 4 years, was an entirely sensible decision.

"Labour’s attempt to paint this as some new revelation is simply political theatre. Greens ran a minority administration, meaning that every decision was scrutinised by other parties, and depended on their votes to pass.

"Labour know full well that they are going to make budget cuts next year. The purpose of this move is to lay the groundwork to blame the Greens for that rather than the Tories.

"It is yet another example of Labour’s opportunism that they are looking to blame a left-wing, progressive party rather than the Tory austerity that slashed our budget by more than £110 million in annual government funding since 2010."