How your Council Tax is spent

View our Council Tax leaflet about how we spend your money.

Our annual leaflet below sets out details of your council tax, including West Sussex County Council's planned spending, Government grants which support our spending and changes to our costs.

For more details on how budgets for Cabinet members’ responsibilities (their portfolios) have changed from year to year, we recommend that you download the County Council's Budget Book 2020/21 and refer to the 'change in spending' pages that follow each portfolio summary (appendix 6, page 13 onwards). This contains much more information on our spending than we can include on this council tax leaflet.

Please note that council tax is collected by your district or borough council. You can link to more information via How to pay Council Tax.

Frequently asked questions

Will we get a refund because of Coronavirus?

Most of the money we spend, which is supported by the council tax you pay, is spent on the most vulnerable people in our community - 35% on vulnerable adults and 23% on vulnerable children.

We are providing additional help for people who are self-isolating and do not have a support network around them. We are also working hard to continue to provide vital services such as fire and rescue, waste disposal and essential road maintenance.

We know that the closure of libraries and Household Waste Recycling Sites is frustrating, but we are doing the very best we can to follow Government guidance to keep all of our residents safe and limit the spread of this virus.

It’s worth noting that the costs of running our libraries is only 1% of our total budget. Likewise, the Household Waste Recycling Sites account for about 0.1% of the budget. Our schools are funded by the Department of Education, not through council tax.

We’re really sorry, but we cannot refund people for their council tax, these closures are temporary to help manage the national crisis.

What extra support is available to people struggling to pay their council tax as a result of the Coronavirus situation?

The government is providing funding so that working age people who receive Local Council Tax Support can receive additional help.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the Coronavirus situation, your district or borough council will be able to advise on available support for council tax payments.

For their contact details please see your council tax bill. You can also find the relevant council by entering your postcode on How to Pay Council Tax.

Why is an increase in council tax necessary?

Over the past decade, local authorities have faced unprecedented financial challenges. Demand for services has risen, particularly within adults and children’s social care and government funding has reduced.

Despite this, we have continued to focus our resources on our key priorities as identified in the West Sussex Plan, which sets out our ambition and vision for the residents and communities of West Sussex.

To have a realistic chance of achieving these ambitions while facing continuing low levels of Government funding and ever greater demand for our statutory responsibilities in areas such as adults and children’s social care, a council tax increase has been unavoidable.

Why is the increase 3.99%?

For 2020/21, the Government has set a reasonableness threshold so local authorities can raise core council tax by up to 2.0%, without holding a local referendum. Additionally, councils with social care responsibilities can increase their council tax by a further 2.0%, for adult social care.

The increase of 3.99% reflects these principles with a rise of 1.99% approved for the core increase plus an additional levy of 2.00% for the adult social care precept, which the Government introduced in 2016. This part of the increase has been applied in full to cover the extra spending required in adult social care, to keep pace with the increasing needs of a growing population and higher costs, including for the National Living Wage.

The following table shows how we are investing an extra £10.3m in adult social care in 2020/21.

Adult social care budget 2020/21 summary

Adult social care budget 2020/21 summary: Read left to right for item and cost in millions pound sterling.
Item £m
Pay and price allowance 3.1
Extra required for growing populations 5.1
Extra needed for National Living Wage costs 2.1
Total gross extra sum 10.3
All other changes, including budget savings -7.2
Net change in budget 3.1

We will use the money raised through the 3.99% increase to protect our core services (1.99%) and ease the pressures on our adult social care budget (2.00%).

How is the adult social care precept calculated?

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 property is as follows:

Adult social care precept calculation

Adult social care precept calculation: Read left to right for year, previous year's total charge, core increase, adult social care increase, percentage increase and total charge.
Year Previous year's total charge Core increase Adult social care increase % increase  Total charge
2016/17 £1,161.99 £22.66 (1.95%) £23.24 (2.00%) 3.95% £1,207.89
2017/18 £1,207.89 £23.54 (1.95%) £24.16 (2.00%) 3.95% £1,255.59
2018/19 £1,255.59 £37.08 (2.95%) £25.11 (2.00%) 4.95% £1,317.78
2019/20 £1,317.78 £39.44 (2.99%) £26.35 (2.00%) 4.99% £1,383.57
2020/21 £1,383.57 £27.50 (1.99%) £27.67 (2.00%) 3.99% £1,438.74
      £126.53    

For transparency, and as prescribed by government regulations, the adult social care precept is identified separately on the council tax demand; it is also shown on a cumulative basis.

As 2020/21 is the fifth year of the levy, the amount shown on the council tax demand represents the sum of the annual charge since its introduction. For example, the total levy applied since 2016 for a band D property, as shown above, would be £126.53.

Why is my bill different to the amount shown on the council tax leaflet?

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.

How can I contact you if I have any questions?

Last updated:
31 March 2020
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