Conservative Group Leader – Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald– responds to the allegation from Council Leader – Jason Kitcat– that Brighton & Hove is being ‘singled out’ for austerity by Secretary of State for Communities – Eric Pickles.
“It is somewhat ironic that Cllr. Kitcat has chosen to issue this press release on the very day it is announced that Brighton & Hove City Council is to receive Ł840,000 in grant funding from the Government for retaining weekly bin collections – an application which I strongly supported.
Of course, councils have to play their part, like everyone else, in reducing the huge budget deficit that was inherited from the previous Labour Government but Cllr. Kitcat needs to get a sense of perspective here. What he failed to mention is that Brighton & Hove actually does very well when it comes to spending on services compared to other councils, with the highest spending per head out of any council in the south east region1. After all, the Council’s gross budget this year is nearly Ł710 million – roughly the same level as it was just 3 years ago.
Cllr Kitcat also doesn’t say that in the last few years for example, the city has received from the Government – over Ł6 million in council tax freeze funding; extra funding Ł3.9 million (double last years allocation) for deprived school children through the pupil premium; almost Ł40 million to set up the new Academy schools in Falmer and Portslade plus funding for two new Free Schools in the city; Ł750k extra social care funding; Ł4 million for the Lewes Road Transport proposals; Ł6.6 million of Local Transport Plan funding (a 96% increase on last year); Ł90k extra Disabled Facilities Grant funding, over Ł1 million now coming in from the New Homes Bonus and new start up funding for the Troubled Families Initiative.
But there is also a wider point here. Cllr. Kitcat’s claim that cuts to local government funding will harm the local economy show a complete lack of understanding of economics! It is private enterprise and entrepreneurship that drives economic growth, not public sector spending – important though that is for the services provided by the Council. But the Greens just don’t get that basic concept, as Cllr. Kitcat demonstrated once again today by showing his support for further increases in the EU budget. When all member Governments are trying to reduce public expenditure this is utter madness. I would rather see taxpayers’ money spent funding services in this country.”