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The makeup of the local population, the economy and the environment is fundamental to the role of the council, the budget and how resources are prioritised. The population of Brighton & Hove is growing meaning that, in simple terms, it is becoming more costly to provide services. In the decade between the 2001 and the 2011 Census the population of the city increased by more than ten per cent, now standing at 273,396.
The city has a large young adult population (between the ages of 20 and 45), in part because we are a student city with two universities. There is a significantly increasing Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) population and a large number of people who identify themselves as 'white other'. The city is home to a large Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, with the highest number of same sex Civil Partnerships in the UK.
There are high numbers of single person, student and cohabiting households. House prices in the city are high. The average house costs 11.1 times the average annual income and only three other UK cities have seen more rapid increases in house prices since 2008. There is a shortage of new and affordable housing, with low levels of owner occupation and a large private rented housing sector.
Brighton & Hove fell within the top 20 per cent of the most deprived local authority areas in England in 2010. In general, areas in the east, centre and north west of the city contain higher concentrations of deprivation, where families and individuals experience multiple issues. However, deprivation is spread across all areas of the city.
The city has the second highest number of businesses to people (after London) and has fared relatively well through the recession, with private sector employment growing by 5,200 jobs in 2011. However, high levels of business start ups are also associated with high failure rates. The city’s employment rate is slightly higher than the national average at 72.6 per cent with unemployment at 7.5 per cent.
A highly educated population has fuelled a growing ‘knowledge services’ economy, for example financial services, digital media and health. However a shortage of graduate level jobs means that graduates wishing to remain in the city are taking lower paid work. By contrast, for many young people who are raised in Brighton & Hove overall attainment in secondary schools has been low, though recently we have seen significant improvements.
The city welcomes over 8.5 million visitors a year, with 1.4 million staying in the many hotels and B&B’s. In total, visitors contribute £740 million annually to the local economy and sustain around 18,500 jobs. The summer influx and a strong out of season conference market, a significant language study sector and the attraction of year round events and festivals have maintained the city’s reputation as a national and international destination.
The outstanding natural landscape, specifically the sea and the South Downs, has been central to the city’s history and its success, but the confines they present also bring challenges for future growth. Carbon Dioxide emissions have been reducing at a slow rate and the city’s ecological footprint is high, primarily due to imports of food and consumer disposables.
To represent citizens through democratic processes
Brighton & Hove City Council is defined as a ‘unitary’ local authority, a council that is responsible for all of the local government functions within its area. This is different from the more common County Council model as seen in the neighbouring local authorities of East Sussex and West Sussex, each with a number of smaller district councils.
The council consists of Councillors (locally elected politicians) and officers (members of staff). Councillors determine the policy of the council by listening to local people and representing their concerns as decisions are taken at council meetings. Officers then put policy into practice by delivering services for the city.
Currently the council has a Green, minority administration and is in a state of ‘no overall control’. This means that although the Green party hold the largest number of seats on the council, they do not hold enough seats to control council decision making.
To ensure that proper and correct decisions are taken by all councillors they agree to abide by certain standards set out in the council’s constitution. Councillors are able to claim an allowance to cover costs they incur in carrying out their role.
Some senior officers have delegated authority to take certain decisions, some where significant spending is involved, under the council’s constitution. Officers also agree to abide by a code of conduct in carrying out their duties on behalf of the council.
Our website contains more information about councillors and council meetings.
To ensure and assure services for the city including statutory responsibilities
The council has a legal duty to provide some services and powers to provide others. Some services are very visible and are used routinely by all, for example refuse and recycling collections, highways maintenance, public health and the upkeep of our many parks. The council provides a seafront service, something that is vital in Brighton & Hove unlike many other places.
Other services like education, children’s centres, housing and care for older people will become available to many, if not all, at some point in their lives. These are very personal to the individual and require a degree of choice. For example, we have a duty to care for older people but how we do that increasingly depends on the individual and their family.
Some services are delivered ‘in-house’ by council staff, others are contracted out. Some are provided between different organisations. Regardless of who delivers a service the council monitors them to assure their cost and quality. It’s an enormous and complex task, underpinned by legislation and also the obligation and our aim to treat people equally.
Safeguarding of the most vulnerable
‘Safeguarding’ has a very particular definition for councils. It refers to our duty to protect people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. It is particularly pertinent for those working in public health and social care and those who work with children.
In this context vulnerable people are those for whom choices have to be made for them by others, perhaps because of their age, perhaps because of their physical ability or mental health issues. Our purpose, along with an obvious moral obligation is to take proper care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
In a broader sense, and particularly in the current financial climate, more people could be considered vulnerable. We seek to make the collective impact of services provided by the council and other agencies greater. But, with increasing demand and reducing resources, we must also be clear on how we define and prioritise support and who is most vulnerable.
Leadership and co-ordination of council and the capacity and capability of partners
The council is a large and complex organisation, consisting of officers and councillors. It works in partnership with other public sector and community and voluntary organisations and with businesses. It has obligations to Government, briefing local Members of Parliament, Ministers and civil servants. It represents citizens, negotiates with staff unions, delivers hundreds of services and supports voluntary and charitable organisations.
In doing so it adopts a certain responsibility for the city, a ‘local authority’, that demands clear leadership. The council’s constitution sets out the legal framework of our accountabilities. From this, and with training and support, it is the responsibility of managers to make sure that staff are able to perform to the best of their ability and meet the values expected of them.
We have to make sure that through robust financial and business planning and by monitoring (working with those agencies who quality assure our services), we and our partners deliver within the resources allocated. We will work as a partner to the city through the Brighton & Hove Strategic Partnership, with neighbouring authorities and with regional and national bodies to ensure that we secure the best outcomes for citizens.
Value for money ensuring a best deal for council tax payers
Residents who pay council tax as well as businesses or anyone who pays for our services, are entitled to know exactly what their money is spent on and be assured that it is used prudently.
We continuously check our spending, delivery of contracts and the way the council is organised and operates to make sure it is as economical, efficient and effective as possible. There is a value for money programme which seeks to make savings whilst improving performance in specific service areas. We are using the One Planet Living framework to make the most sustainable use of our resources.
We are making the annual budget setting process more transparent and more involving, using more convenient ways to consult residents and partners. We are being more thorough in the ways we publish financial information, such as the Budget Book.
A high performing authority, a fantastic and distinctive place to live, work and visit
People love Brighton & Hove. Residents tell us that are happy living here, businesses want to locate here and increasingly visitors flock to the city. But it takes a lot of work to make Brighton & Hove an attractive place to be, to keep our city safe and clean, to maintain a high quality environment and to keep it working and growing.
The City Tracker survey shows we are getting better at satisfying the demands of our residents. However as demand and expectations rise, our ability to deliver is being challenged. Reducing resources and changes to the way that local government is delivered mean we have to work smarter and more efficiently to maintain our reputation.
A leader of the city region
Brighton & Hove has distinct geographical boundaries that define it as a place (particularly the sea and the South Downs) but it exists in a wider economic, city region with neighbouring communities and councils.
Although the city remains popular and its economy has fared relatively well during the recession, in order to continue to grow and to capitalise on success we must work ever more closely with our neighbours, using precious space in a more thought through way across the city region
Together we have instigated the vision of a Greater Brighton to enable us to compete increasingly on a national and international platform. This is not about changing the unique identity of any one place but making sure that we all benefit from the sum of our parts.
In particular we will continue to develop and exploit the benefits from our work as part of Coast to Capital, the Local Enterprise Partnership, and the South East Seven, a group of councils looking to make savings through joint procurement, whilst welcoming new and profitable relationships with others.
Demonstrably making best use of all resources. Seeking to become a self-sustaining organisation serving its customers well
As changes to the shape and scale of local government take effect it is increasingly important that people understand the value of the services they receive. Our growing population, rising social care costs and changes to the way we receive funding mean simply that more has to be done with less.
We are responding to this challenge and are first to recognise that saving money can also mean finding better ways to do things whilst still providing excellent, possibly more up to date, services. This is not only about how we spend our resources but also about the flexibility of the organisation, reducing bureaucracy and supporting staff to get things done.
We will seek to become more self sustaining and less reliant on external funding. Councils are now permitted, and encouraged, to work in more modern ways. We are exploring these freedoms as we seek the most effective and efficient ways to deliver services; possibly in partnership with others.
With support from the organisation and from their managers all council officers are expected to achieve their personal best for our customers and for the city. To ensure that everyone is able to understand what this means the council has agreed our six values that describe what every officer should aim to accomplish in the way in which they carry out their job.
The values shape the way council officers manage their own and others performance. Each member of staff has a Performance and Development Plan which sets out their current work objectives so that they, their manager and the organisation are clear on what they are being asked to achieve and that they have the relevant training and support not only to do this, but also to develop as people and professionals.
The plan is intended primarily to be used through this Corporate Plan website making it is easy to follow, with a separate section for each of our priorities as well as financial and performance information. Drop down headings under each priority describe the outcomes that we are trying to achieve over the life of the plan. Being online allows the plan to be updated easily without the cost and impact of large print runs. However, if you do need a paper copy of the plan then please contact the central policy team by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01273 293944.
Each year the Corporate Plan is updated with new commitments to demonstrate how the annual process of budget setting and business planning leads to specific action by the council. This is to show in clear examples how we are keeping pace with the changing role for councils across the UK and the way in which they are funded. It also shows how the plan remains relevant to this unique city, reflecting changes in the economy, the environment and the population.
Work together and contribute to the creation of helpful and successful teams and partnerships across the council and beyond.
Work in a way that makes the best and most sustainable use of our resources, always looking at alternative ways of getting tasks completed and asking, “How can I improve that?”
Adopt our Customer Promise to colleagues, partners, members and customers. We will be easy to reach, be clear and treat you with respect, listen and act to get things done.
Have ideas that challenge the ‘tried and tested’, use evidence of what works, listen to feedback and come up with different solutions.
Share and communicate with honesty about our service and self, whenever appropriate. Accept where we have to change in order to improve.
Embrace diversity with kindness and consideration and recognise the value of everyone.
What you have to do to get the job done.
How your behaviour impacts others.
How you work with your colleagues, customers and external partners.
What you are accountable for and who you are answerable to.