Like other councils we’re facing difficult financial circumstances. There are increasing pressures with growing numbers of children and older people needing social care.
There are also other growing pressures, such as the government's policy on the National Living Wage. These pressures, combined with the continued reduction in our core funding from central government, mean that a council tax increase has been unavoidable.
West Sussex is comparatively low-funded from the government, as shown in the chart below:
Our funding from central government has been decreasing significantly in recent years. In 2014/15 the money we received from central government, known as Revenue Support Grant, stood at £92.6m. From 2019/20 the County Council no longer receives any Revenue Support Grant at all.
Despite the reduction in funding we have faced since 2010, members of the County Council have been reluctant to raise your council tax. In fact we froze your council tax between 2011/12 and 2015/16 (five years). This meant an overall saving of approximately £500 for a Band D tax payer.
However, a change in government policy in 2016 meant funding reduced further for authorities including West Sussex. This was because government assumed reductions in funding could be made good by council tax, so we had little choice other than to increase our share of the council tax. For 2018/19 our Band D charge was lower than the comparable average for a County Council by £17.24.
Since 2010 we have also carried out an extensive transformation programme, which has meant we have made efficiency savings, whilst still protecting our frontline services. In fact, by 31 March 2020 we will have made approximately £240m in savings since 2010, which has helped to keep your council tax down.
The increase of 4.99% is made up of a rise of 2.99% for the county’s core element of council tax, plus 2.0% specifically for adult social care.
The core element follows an agreement by Government to allow authorities to raise council tax by an additional 1%, taking the maximum permissible increase from 2.0% to 3.0%, before a local referendum is required. For 2019/20 West Sussex County Council has approved a core increase of 2.99%.
In addition, there is a levy charged in relation to the adult social care precept. Introduced by the Government in 2016/17, this allows councils to levy an annual charge to assist with meeting expenditure on adult social care. For 2019/20, as in previous years, West Sussex County Council will be levying a 2.0% charge for the adult social care precept.
This part of the increase has been applied in full to cover the extra spending needed in social care, to keep pace with rising demand and the costs associated with Government implementing the National Living Wage. The attached table shows we are investing an extra £15.6m in adults social care in 2019/20.
Adult social care budget 2019/20 summary
|Pay and price allowance
|Extra required for growing populations
|Extra needed for National Living Wage costs
|Improved Better Care Fund adjustment
|Total gross extra sum
|All other changes, including budget savings
|Net change in budget
The additional money raised through the total increase of 4.99% will therefore be used to protect both our core services (2.99%) and to ease the pressures on our adult social care budget (2%).
The adult social care precept is calculated on the whole of the West Sussex County Council element from the previous year. The calculation for a Band D is as follows:
Adult social care precept calculation
||Previous year's total charge
||Adult social care increase
For transparency, and as prescribed by government regulations, the adult social pare precept is identified separately on the council tax demand; it is also shown on a cumulative basis.
As 2019/20 is the fourth year of the levy, the amount shown on the council tax demand represents the sum of the charge for the current year and three previous years. For example, the four year total for a band D property, as tabled above, would be shown as £98.86.
The charge shown on the leaflet above relates to the West Sussex County Council element of the council tax charge.
In addition to this there will be charges for your district or borough council, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and, if applicable, your town and parish council.
A breakdown of the full charge will be available from your district or borough council - please see your council tax bill for their contact details. You can also find out the relevant council by entering your postcode on How to pay Council Tax.