Introduction to our Council Plan

Find out what is driving our new plan - its context and its aims.

A different context

West Sussex needs to operate in a different context to that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the rest of the country the effects have already been significant and are far from over.

COVID-19 impact

In 2020, almost 800 people died from COVID-19 across the county. At the peak of the first wave, more than 133,000 people in West Sussex were furloughed from their jobs, with Crawley having one of the highest take-up rates in the country. Big employers like Gatwick Airport have seen a 61.3% drop in revenues in the first six months of 2020 and around 40% of employees had lost their jobs at the airport at the end of October 2020.

The number of claims for Universal Credit have grown by 2.5 times in some parts of the county between March and November 2020. The longer term physical health, mental health, social and economic impacts are yet to be fully seen. With this new context comes revised action and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has risen to the challenge.

Work with partners

We have worked alongside partners to put in place the support needed to our communities, including:

  • healthcare
  • social care
  • housing and emergency accommodation
  • 'community hubs' across the county to help people access food, prescriptions and other essentials when they needed it most. 

We have also seen unexpected benefits including cleaner air, less noise, neighbourliness, and an appreciation of the environment our residents live in.

Fit for the future

This new context means WSCC needs to build a new model of priorities for the next four years and beyond – one that focuses everything we are able to do on achieving good health and wellbeing for our residents.

In order to be fit for the future we must do two things:

  • First we need to build on the improvement journey in children's services, fire and rescue and good governance that we had already started before the pandemic.

    We must ensure across all areas of our work that we:
    • put residents and communities at the heart of everything we do
    • create strong and visible leadership
    • work closely with communities and partners
    • invest in and value the staff that work for WSCC
    • make the way we work as a council as straightforward as possible for the communities we serve.
  • Second we must strengthen our support to those who need it most, but manage this within the financial challenges we face.

    This means we will need to:
    • prioritise our key services
    • ensure we effectively manage the demand on our services
    • make sure our resources go to where they are needed most
    • ensure we always get the best value for money from our resources, in the short and the long term.

A focused plan

The new uncertain world that we are still getting used to living in requires a plan that takes all of the learning and progress we have made and focuses on the most important things that our communities need.

This plan acts as a framework for WSCC to operate in a way that means we are clear on what we want to achieve and what we will do to achieve the priorities, but we are flexible to respond to whatever comes our way.

Our role

This plan and the way we have put it together reflects the changing nature of our role – a deliverer, convenor or enabler of whatever is needed to serve our communities.

We have spoken to community groups, undertaken research with residents to understand the effects of COVID-19 and what they need going forward, and involved WSCC staff and almost 50 of our local partners in the process to shape four key priorities and outcomes, underpinned by responding to the challenges of climate change.