Brighton and Hove City Council has published a draft budget, forecasting a budget gap of £18 million in the next financial year, 2022-23.
And over the next four years the budget gap is expected to total £27.6 million, including the shortfall next year.
The council said that it was facing “cost pressures” of £12 million – and a continuation of falling revenue from fees and charges, rents and council tax.
For the current financial year, 2021-22, the council received a one-off covid-19 grant of £8 million to cover lost revenue – but there is promise of coronavirus cushion next year.
A report to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee this week said that a 1.99 per cent rise in council tax was likely, plus a 1 per cent rise towards adult social care, making 2.99 per cent in total.
The committee is being asked to adopt a four-year medium-term financial strategy to help plan for budget shortfalls.
The report said: “The financial impact of the pandemic has brought financial resilience to the fore, and the threat of interventions such as statutory section 114 notices, which temporarily halt non-critical spending and contracts, have become a reality for a number of authorities.
“There are also many other authorities (nine to date) that have stopped short of section 114 notices but have been forced to apply to the government for ‘capitalisation directions’ to enable them to use capital receipts or borrowing to fund annual revenue costs in the short term.
“External auditors are therefore paying very close attention to the financial health of local authorities including monitoring their reserve levels and financial plans.”
The report said that the council was increasingly reliant on fees and charges, particularly parking and permit revenue.
The appendix listed details of spending and potential savings and said that the council would need to find alternatives to parking income as it developed its “liveable city centre” and “ultra-low emission zone”.
Proposals include putting up on-street pay and display parking charges by ten per cent and off-street pay and display charges at four main car parks by the same percentage.
The report said that higher parking charges may discourage visitors.
The council is proposing a £25 increase for parking permits in areas with “high demand” schemes, in central Brighton, taking the base rate from £195 to £220.
It is also proposing a £10 increase for other parking permits, including for areas with “light-touch” schemes, while traders permits would go up by just over five per cent increase from £760 to £800.
The council said that it faced cost pressures for emergency and temporary housing. The report said: “The numbers of people supported in, and the cost of, emergency and temporary accommodation and associated support services has been increasing year on year and has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Although short-term funding has been received to meet accommodation costs through the pandemic, if people are not successfully ‘moved on’ to sustainable accommodation or settings, this will increase baseline numbers further and the impact on the council’s budget will be potentially very substantial over the next few years.”
The Policy and Resource Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Thursday (2 December). The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.