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Funding boost follows £2m underspend in council budget – Brighton and Hove News

Funding boost follows £2m underspend in council budget – Brighton and Hove News

The council’s new cabinet has agreed to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to fill potholes, tackle graffiti and plant trees.

The money comes on top of a shortfall totalling around £2.3m in the financial year ending in March, following tough decisions last year.

And £300,000 will be added to the council’s “Justice Fund”, which supports residents worst affected by the national “cost of living crisis”, doubling the council’s existing contribution.

But £1m of the underspend is expected to be held back as contingency to help deal with pressures facing Brighton and Hove City Council’s finances.

This includes a significant “need for savings” as demand for services continues to rise while costs also rise, fueled by factors such as wage inflation.

In total, councillors and finance chiefs are believed to be grappling with an “anticipated risk” of around £10m.

In essence, if nothing changes, the council could be on track for a £10m overspend by the end of the current financial year at the end of March next year.

The figure is not as high as it has been at this stage in some previous years. In 2020, for example, councillors were warned they faced a £36m overspend.

Traditionally, this has become the point in the year when the reality of budget savings targets begins to sink in.

Today (Tuesday 2 July) the council said: “An additional £2.3 million has been allocated to key services in the city after Brighton and Hove City Council underspent at the end of the last financial year.

“The council’s cabinet approved the reallocation of the underspent £2.3 million when councillors met to discuss proposals at Brighton Town Hall last week (Thursday 27 June).

“Areas that will now receive a welcome boost in funding include

  • £300,000 for the Fairness Fund, which supports residents most affected by the national cost of living crisis – doubling the council’s existing contribution
  • £100,000 to help tackle graffiti and tagging across the city
  • £50,000 towards a tree planting programme focusing on areas that currently have no trees or poor air quality
  • Extra funding to repair potholes and roads, with a specific focus on improving access to parks, vegetable gardens and cemeteries
  • £50,000 for work to remove basal and lateral shoots from street trees which, if left unchecked, could damage pavements
  • an investment of £185,000 in priority services
  • funding for a series of community engagement events in deprived areas of the city

“Cabinet also agreed that £1 million of the available funding created by the underspend would be retained as a contingency to help address the many pressures facing the council’s finances, including a large savings requirement resulting from increased demand for services and higher levels of inflation.

“The meeting was the first cabinet meeting since the council moved from its previous committee system to the new model.

“The next cabinet meeting will take place on Thursday 18 July at Hove Town Hall.”