MP George Hawkins has got stuck into Auckland Mayor and fellow Labour Party member Len Brown for proposing a 4.9 per cent rates increase.

Mr Hawkins said many Manurewa residents - whom he represents in Parliament and on the Super City's Manurewa Local Board - could simply not afford their rates to rise by 4.9 per cent in July.

Not just the poor but better-off residents were finding it tough with rising food prices and soaring petrol costs, he said.

Mr Hawkins said there was a lot of goodwill in South Auckland towards Mr Brown, the former mayor of Manukau City, "but people are looking to him to keep their rates bills right down".

Mr Brown is struggling to keep an election promise to hold rates near the rate of inflation - projected at 3.4 per cent - after inheriting a rates increase of 9.2 per cent when the budgets of the previous eight councils were amalgamated.

He faces opposition from eight of the 20 councillors for not aiming at a 3.9 per cent rise. Now he has got the hard word from the Manurewa Local Board to do more to help ratepayers in the tough economic climate.

A notice of motion by Mr Hawkins, passed unanimously by the local board last week, also criticised Mr Brown's failure to identify another $60 million needed in savings to hold rates increases to 4.9 per cent. Officers have already trimmed the 9.2 per cent figure, mainly from deferring some capital works.

The proposed budget, in the name of Mr Brown, is currently out for public consultation without any information on where the $60 million worth of cuts will be made.

"If you don't know where the cost cuts are, it's very difficult for a local board to have serious and useful input," Mr Hawkins said. "We have been left a bit in the dark."

He and Manurewa board chairman Daniel Newman have suggested cuts should be made to a $4 million mayoral office budget and the new Our Auckland booklet delivered to about 500,000 households - described by Mr Hawkins as a glossy public relations exercise.

Last night, Mr Brown said he was concerned about the effects of rate rises on ratepayers but was confident everything was being done to keep increases as low as possible without reducing service levels.

It was important, he said, to remember the new council inherited a rates increase of 9.2 per cent as a result of transition costs to the Super City and other unbudgeted expenditure - which has included the cost of running the Maori Statutory Board.

Mr Brown said the Our Auckland booklet was well within budgets set aside by the former councils to tell ratepayers what was happening, and mayoral office costs were forecast to be well below the budget provided in law by the Government.