Cllr Warren Morgan, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said:
"There seems to be evidence that some kind of arrangement has been made between Surrey County Council and the Government to help them meet their social care costs.
All top-tier councils like Surrey and Brighton and Hove face huge pressures in meeting the funding challenges; with our social care bill now some £25m more than the entire amount we bring in through council tax.
Surrey were threatening a 15% council tax increase, but yesterday at the last minute chose to reduce it to 5%, the same as BHCC and our neighbours in East Sussex.
We have worked very hard to minimise cuts to jobs and services whilst facing huge cuts and rapidly escalating social care costs.
There must be an investigation into whether Surrey have won a preferential funding deal by threatening a steep rise, and if so then the Government have to make that same deal available to other councils who have played by the rules.
We cannot continue to have the Government pass the costs of services on to the local taxpayer and there is agreement cross-party that they have to find an urgent solution to the social care funding crisis.”
Cllr Warren Morgan, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: "There seems to be evidence that some kind of arrangement has been made between Surrey County Council and the...
Brighton and Hove City Council Leader Warren Morgan is calling for the creation of “Rail South”, a new body to give residents and commuters a say in who runs their rail services, holding those service providers to account and ensuring central government gives our region the infrastructure and operators fit for the rail service commuters and businesses need.
“It’s time for action on the failing Southern services, and time for passengers and businesses to have a locally accountable and democratically elected voice in how those services are designed and run. It is time for the Department for Transport to end the current “concession” arrangement with GTR, and work with passengers, business and councils on awarding a new franchise that gives us the rail services we desperately need. I have written to the Leaders of East and West Sussex County Councils this week to ask for their partnership in taking this idea forward.”
The new body would work in partnership with Department of Transport to manage the Southern rail franchise, in a similar way to Rail North. It would have a statutory role in the awarding of franchises and scrutiny of service standards, and work under the umbrella of the emerging Transport for the South East sub-national transport body, equivalent to Transport for London.
It would be a cohesive and proactive body, applying local, economic and geographical knowledge to the re-franchising process, and advance plans for future devolution of rail services, planning and infrastructure investment.
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive of Coast to Capital LEP, has supported the proposal, saying Rail North is a good template: “Stronger local involvement in the specification and delivery of franchises is essential if we are to rebuild confidence in Southern and also to get more leverage over the investment decisions on the Brighton Main Line that Government needs to take in the next 12 months.”
Brighton and Hove City Council Leader Warren Morgan is calling for the creation of “Rail South”, a new body to give residents and commuters a say in who runs their...
On Saturday 21st January we were joined by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for a jam packed day of campaigning to save our NHS. In the morning John joined campaigners on a march and rally in defence of the NHS, before supporting members leaflet residents and collect petition signatures.
At lunchtime we had the official opening of our new office before heading back to street stalls for more campaigning.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this fantastic day of action.
On Saturday 21st January we were joined by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for a jam packed day of campaigning to save our NHS. In the morning John joined campaigners on...
The Leader of the City Council Warren Morgan has expressed his thanks to Cllr Tom Bewick, who is stepping down as Chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee after nearly two years in the role, in order to focus on his ward and his business. Cllr Morgan praised Cllr Bewick for his “clear leadership and purpose” and “wide-ranging and invaluable” contribution to the council’s leadership since May 2015.
Cllr Dan Chapman, currently Deputy Chair, will take over as Chair of the Committee until Annual Council in May, with Cllr Caroline Penn taking his role as Deputy. Cllr Bewick will remain a councillor for Westbourne ward.
Cllr Morgan said “Cllr Dan Chapman brings huge experience in education and has ably demonstrated his ability to lead the committee through his work on schools admissions as Deputy Chair.”
During his time as Lead Member for Children, Young People and Skills Committee, Cllr Bewick has successfully rocket-boosted apprenticeships, overseen continual improvements in the cities schools and protected children's services in the face of huge Tory cuts.
The Leader of the City Council Warren Morgan has expressed his thanks to Cllr Tom Bewick, who is stepping down as Chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee...
Two or three times since I became your MP I've thought our rail service has hit rock bottom, and then it gets worse. Last week in the Commons I told the rail minister that month after month I have heard ministers make pledges, promises, and announce new schemes and yet every single month the service gets worse and worse. I am totally despairing.
Today thousands of people are stranded, unable to get to work, to shop for Christmas, or to see the people they love. I feel two things. Firstly I am boiling with fury at every organisation responsible for our rail service who chooses - it is a choice - to wage war against another part of the service rather than take steps towards solving this problem. Both sides in this dispute are obstinate and government continue to sit passively in the shadows, too cowardly to step up to the challenge of being an active partner in solving this dispute. My anger towards all of these parties know no bounds, not least because they have made me powerless to advocate for you, the passengers who turn to me at times like these, and I hate the powerlessness that has accompanied this nightmare.
Secondly I feel heartbroken for passengers affected. Each week I read many hundreds of messages and speak directly to dozens of people affected. I've spoken to people who have lost their jobs or given up their jobs, and who's businesses has suffered. I've heard from people who are on medication due to the distress of travelling on overcrowded and late running trains, and I've spoken to a man who was traumatised by the sight of another passenger having a breakdown by a platform edge. I've lost count of the number of people who've told me of the heartbreak of missing out on family time. And then there's the anger, raw and unmitigated, of people being treated in utterly inhumane ways by an uncaring, unapologetic, and inaccessible rail network.
People rightly ask me, 'what are you doing'. It's a good question. In the last fortnight I've written to the prime minister, spoken in the Commons, met the rail minister twice, and chaired a meeting of the group I set up with Sir Nicholas Soams that includes every MP in the Southern commuter area. I've also been in constant touch with the Albion regarding the dangerous situation that occurred there a short while ago.
I've met several times with Chris Gibb who's been appointed by government to complete an independent review of the Southern region to deliver improvements in the short and medium term. His report is handed to government in January and I've already read his initial findings which are extremely detailed and I believe, if government act on them, will have a big impact on the infrastructure of our service.
This is one area where media pressure is having an impact too, so I've been out not eh airwaves as much as I can to tell the broader public just how bad things are. From the papers, where I've been in the Times, Guardian, and Telegraph in the last week, to TV where I've been on almost every station, to the radio and social media....I'm doing everything I can humanly do to put pressure on government to do something to end our misery.
I'm at work today because I have a London-based kind and generous friend who also happens to have a sofa-bed. I'm well aware that I can do this because I have such a friend but I also don't have a family so it's not the end of the world if I don't make it home at night. But for others it's very different and it's those people whoa re suffering most at this time.
If you can think of anything I could do that I am not then please let me know and if it has a hope of making a difference then I'll do it without hesitation.
I know many of the people who are reading this are genuinely suffering because of this situation. Please believe me when I say how sorry I am that you have to endure this, I am doing everything I can and I won't give up.
I've been trying to remember the last time no trains ran between Brighton and London but I can't remember. I've asked around but no-one seems to remember either. I even...
Cllr Warren Morgan calls on Theresa May to Save Our Services
Sign our petition to save our services
Brighton and Hove City Council, like many local authorities, is facing the total cut of it's Government Support Grant, around £140 million over ten years. With social care services now costing more than the total income from Council Tax, many of our valued local services are at risk or being cut altogether.
We call on the Government to reverse at least part of the £21 billion tax cut for top earners, the £12 billion cut in Corporation Tax for big business, and the £1 billion cut in Inheritance Tax, and restore the £7.6 billion being cut from local council services.
Cllr Warren Morgan calls on Theresa May to Save Our Services Sign our petition to save our services Brighton and Hove City Council, like many local authorities, is facing the total...
The budget: Like Labour councils across the country, we are facing the complete cut of our support grant from the Conservative Government by 2020. Like Labour leaders, Labour mayors and Labour MPs, I have joined calls for them to end the cuts and stop the rapid erosion of the essential public services councils provide. I’ve taken those calls to the heart of Government, to Cabinet ministers and local MPs. Every week, in newspaper columns and in radio interviews, I remind the residents of our city of how deep and damaging these Tory cuts are.
Recently I and other Labour leaders met the Shadow Local Government Secretary Teresa Pearce MP, who was very supportive and pledged to lead the fight in the Commons for a fairer deal for our councils and local services. We have an excellent shadow CLG team in the Commons, including former council leader Jim McMahon MP.
We will tackle the 2017 Budget based on three Labour principles: getting basic public services right, protecting services for the most vulnerable, and ensuring everyone shares the benefits of a growing local economy.
So what is the scale of the challenge we face here in the city?
The council spends around £760 million a year on hundreds of different services from street cleaning to schools, libraries to homelessness, and street lighting to licensing bars and restaurants. The biggest part of our budget is social care, at around £163 million. In this budget we will have to address a predicted budget gap of £18m through savings, following a similar level of savings already being implemented this year.
This is because the government is cutting entirely what is called the revenue support grant to councils by 2020 and we have to meet growing costs and demands, across adult and children’s social services. The reduction in grant funding alone is around £27m by 2020. Our overall funding has reduced by around £45m over the last five years which, added to increasing costs and demands, has resulted in the very large annual savings we have and will continue to have to make.
As the government grant support is cut, there will be less money available for services the council could provide but isn’t required to provide. The bulk of the income we receive from parking charges, around £12.7m, goes toward funding the free bus passes for older people that the government does not fund. Similarly, we also have to put another £1.5m into support for people who can’t afford to pay all of their council tax, as Government is cutting the funding needed to do that.
The government is now also looking at councils taking financial responsibility for some NHS services, in crisis locally. Looking after older people, children in care and people with disabilities is already the largest part of our budget. Early estimates show that next year it will cost us at least £10m more. The government will again, through councils, allow two per cent to be added to your council tax bill to pay for this, but that will only raise £2.4m, not enough to keep up. Some councils are asking for another 2% on top of the 4% already allowed, but that would hit many on lower incomes very hard.
Your council tax used to make up around a third of what we spend on general fund services, with another third made up from fees and charges and the remaining third from business rates and government grants. There are also uncertainties regarding business rates; the government currently retains half of our local business rates, around £54m, and will be revaluing business rates next year. We don’t know how much we will receive from business rates by 2020, so we need to ensure more businesses come to the city. Businesses that create real jobs, not zero-hour contracts, and who pay a proper Living Wage, businesses that pay their taxes and are socially responsible.
As more students come to the city, fewer households pay council tax. While being a university city is part of our identity, there’s no ignoring the financial impact of providing services to non-council tax paying households. Landlords who let properties to students are also protected from business rates by the government; we have called for the right to charge landlords business rates so we recoup some of the money we need for public services.
Earlier this year we ran our City Innovation Challenge to find out if individuals, schools and businesses, had ideas to help out as our budgets shrink. Many said we should look to volunteering, and we have recently agreed a new volunteering policy. Meanwhile we are changing how we deliver services, with much more online, and more focus on joined up services in your neighbourhoods, designed by you around what works in your community.
As a Labour council we are building 500 new council homes, and 1000 homes to part-buy or rent at around 60% of market rates. Decent, truly affordable housing is one of the main ways we can get a grip on growing costs and tackle poverty and inequality locally.
As a Labour council we are building 500 new council homes, and 1000 homes to part-buy or rent at around 60% of market rates. Decent, truly affordable housing is one of the main ways we can get a grip on growing costs and tackle poverty and inequality locally.
We have no choice but to face the financial situation as it is, whilst fighting for a better deal from the Tory government. The Labour leadership made it clear last year that Labour councils cannot set illegal budgets by spending more than they bring in, and this was enshrined in Party rules by the NEC recently. We won’t be pushed down the wholesale privatisation route the Tories want, but we won’t just wash our hands of responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in – as the Greens did at the last budget council. The cuts we will have to make will be difficult and painful. None of us stood for election to make things worse, but we owe it to those who elected us to fight for the best possible outcomes under the worst of Governments.
We will make every effort to focus the money we have on getting the basics right, delivering the best services possible, and doing the right thing by those who most need help. We are paying all our staff the local Living Wage, and defending as many jobs as we can by bringing in new revenue. Where we can share services, use not-for-profit providers, get help from our communities and work in partnership with the voluntary sector to keep services running, we will.
It is a huge and very difficult task, but we are up for the challenge if you are behind us, supporting us in the face of these Tory-imposed cuts. Labour councils can make a difference, can deliver our values in office, and Labour will win nationally by showing we can run things locally. Let’s fight for our city and our services together.
You can find information about the councils current budget here.
The budget: Like Labour councils across the country, we are facing the complete cut of our support grant from the Conservative Government by 2020. Like Labour leaders, Labour mayors and...
Rent Smart Brighton and Hove Launch
A new partnership to support private tenants in the city will be launched next week.
Rent Smart Brighton and Hove brings together organisations across the city with an expertise in housing.
The partnership will launch a website signposting tenants to sources of information and advice.
The partnership will also encourage tenants to use the review site AllAgents.co.uk to research and evaluate their letting agent.
Rent Smart will launch on Tuesday November 22nd with an event at 6.30pm at Grand Parade in Brighton. Rent Smart will also be on the agenda at the Housing and New Homes meeting on November 16th, when formal approval will be sought for the council to become a partner.
Partners confirmed so far are: Brighton and Sussex Universities, Sussex University Students Union, Brighton Housing Trust, Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove, Sussex Student Lettings and the Southern Landlords Association.
Cllr Tracey Hill, the council’s lead for private rented sector housing, says: “The private rented sector is one of the council’s top priorities. A third of the city now lives in private rented accommodation. Good information is already out there about tenants’ rights and responsibilities, but many people don’t know it’s there. Rent Smart will point people towards many information sources, including the government’s How to Rent guide, Shelter, and the city’s own housing advice services.
“Letting agents vary in the quality of the service provided, but it is difficult for potential tenants to evaluate them before they sign a contract. A professionally run ratings site is the best way to evaluate all agents on an equal footing. Ideally, every letting agency in the city would have a robust number of reviews on a ratings site such as AllAgents.
“Rent Smart will run information and awareness campaigns in the future in response to needs and issues that the partners have identified.”
Rent Smart Brighton and Hove Launch A new partnership to support private tenants in the city will be launched next week. Rent Smart Brighton and Hove brings together organisations across the city...
Cllr Peter Atkinson speaks in support of a motion for replacing truly affordable rented housing
I’m happy to offer the administration’s support for this motion and it does appear that, nationally, the government under new housing minister, Gavin Barwell, is beginning to realise the scale of the crisis that we face in the field of rented housing. This is particularly acute in Brighton, of course, where private rents are very high.
Renting a 3-bed house now costs £1,491 a month, renting a 1-bed flat now costs £920 a month and the average cost to rent a room in the City is now £538 a month. An annual average increase of 22.76%
Allowing new homes to be built by increased prudential borrowing from the HRA would go some way towards easing our housing crisis, as does our innovative partnership with Hyde to build 1000 homes which will hopefully get the go ahead shortly.
As the motion points out the like for like replacement for council house sales has yet to materialise – something that I flagged up at the last Housing Committee. Adding to this problem, we now have the probability of councils having to sell off their higher value properties to compensate Housing Associations who now have to offer the right to buy to their tenants. The irony of this, of course, is that Housing Associations are now either not building homes to rent as they would then have to sell them on or they are acting like private housebuilders, building new homes for sale to make up for lost income. It is, however, grossly unfair that local councils and local taxpayers should have to assist Housing Associations in this way and, if we have to sell of our higher value homes, we should at least be allowed to keep enough income from those sales to build a replacement house.
As I said earlier, I get the impression that this housing minister is ready to listen to all sides of the housing debate and I genuinely hope that our letter will add to that debate in a constructive manner.
Cllr Peter Atkinson speaks in support of a motion for replacing truly affordable rented housing Mr MayorI’m happy to offer the administration’s support for this motion and it does appear that,...
Notice of Motion – HMO landlords and business rates
Tracey Hill – Full Council 20th October 2016
Mr Mayor, as we all know, Brighton and Hove has a high number of houses of multiple occupation. This is due to a combination of factors including student numbers, high numbers of young people who move around frequently, and high rents, which mean that for many people a shared house is the only affordable way to live here.
Our HMO licensing schemes have given us a new visibility onto the HMO market, and we can see that many HMO landlords have portfolios of properties, some substantial in size. Mr Mayor, the management of HMOs in our city is a business, sometimes big business, and in our view should be taxed as such, just like shops, pubs, hotels and guest houses, all of which are subject to business rates.
HMOs are a necessary part of our housing mix. But some areas are seeing huge concentrations, and this is having a negative impact on neighbourhoods. Not all HMOs present problems: many are very well run and cause no problems at all. But in areas where the density is high, the problems are well documented. In the Lewes Road area many HMOs are student lets: councillors hear regular reports of noise in the street, late night parties and issues with refuse and recycling and end of tenancy fly-tipping.
Addressing private rented housing issues for both tenants and neighbours of tenants are a priority for this administration, which is why I am the first ever lead councillor for the private rented sector. We are determined to do everything we can with the resources available. We are stepping up planning enforcement, cooperating with the universities to address street litter, fly-tipping and noise, and through the HMO Forum finding ways to enable local people to take action.
But it all costs money and we would love to do more. Much more would be possible if we weren’t having to face the never-ending challenge of trying to do more with less.
In terms of funding, HMOs are a double whammy for the council. While the universities and students contribute enormously to the city culturally and economically, this is not a direct contribution to the council because of students’ exemption from council tax. It is right that students should not pay council tax, and in theory the council is compensated for this, but in practice the grant from government is capped, and the total cost to the council of exemptions is estimated at £5.4m a year.
Mr Mayor, some people have responded to the idea in this notice of motion by assuming that the additional costs to the landlord would be passed directly to the tenant. There is nothing inevitable about this. It’s the landlord’s decision whether to put the rent up or not. In fact, every measure to regulate the historically under-regulated buy-to-let sector is met with this same argument. The truth is that the pressure pushing rents higher and higher is not coming from regulation or tax normalisation but from ever-increasing house prices pushing up the cost of borrowing, and the same thing together with severe constraints on social housing pushing people into the private rented sector because they have no other option. There is a chronic lack of supply. Backing away from regulation and management of the sector is not the answer. The structure of the housing market in general needs to change.
With the proportion of private renters getting higher and higher, it is more important than ever that we have a more professional buy-to-let industry with investors coming in for the long term, prepared to pay their dues and reap a reasonable return over time. We need to move away from expectations of a quick buck, massive returns within one or two years which tempt some of our landlords to play fast and loose with planning regulations, pile tenants into poorly maintained properties and fail to provide a proper service. The government has indicated through the Housing and Planning Act that it is on board with a better managed private rented housing sector, and our proposal fits with this overall ambition to professionalise the buy-to-let world.
All we are asking for is a small contribution from HMO landlords to use to mitigate some of the effects their business is having. This will help HMO tenants as well as their neighbours, and even out inconsistencies in terms of who pays business rates. It may even help to reduce some of the resistance to HMOs we are hearing about today.
Mr Mayor, I am asking all members to support this notice of motion for a better managed city.
Notice of Motion – HMO landlords and business rates Tracey Hill – Full Council 20th October 2016 Mr Mayor, as we all know, Brighton and Hove has a high number...