Budget 2021/22

Find out more about our budget setting process for 2021/22

Setting the budget for 2021/22

We face a particularly challenging set of circumstances this year, not least because of the financial impact arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also uncertainty around future funding from central government, and an increasing demand on our services - in particular social care.

Our Council Plan

The work to balance the budget has been supported through the development of a new plan - Our Council Plan 2021/25 - which sets out:

  • our key priority outcomes for the next four years and what we should focus on in the future
  • how our budgets are allocated and how we should spend our money
  • how our performance is measured.

The plan is part of our improvement journey. It takes learning from the response to COVID-19 and focuses on what is needed most for you our residents, both now and in the future.

Our key priority outcomes are:

  • Keeping people safe from vulnerable situations
  • A sustainable and prosperous economy
  • Helping people and communities to fulfil their potential
  • Making the best use of resources

Climate change is central to all the priorities. Our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 will be considered at every stage of the plan.

The final version of Our Council Plan was approved at February’s Full Council meeting, along with the budget for the coming year.

The national picture

The last year has seen unprecedented changes due to the global pandemic. At the same time, we continue to face uncertainty over the level of funding we will receive in the future.

Both the Fair Funding Review, which will determine how central funding should be distributed amongst local authorities to ensure equity, and the Business Rates Review, which will determine the level of funding that will be raised and how this will be distributed amongst local authorities, have been pushed back, primarily because of the dramatically changing circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The County Council Network said in November 2020 that its member councils face a pre-COVID-19 underlying funding gap of £1.4bn. And as a result of potential losses in unrecoverable council tax and business rates, this gap could increase to £2.2bn next year.

We are working with local MPs to press Government to ensure we get adequate and sustainable funding for our residents. But as you can see, the financial picture for local authorities is unpredictable and stark.

The local picture

There has been a significant adverse impact on businesses and employment within West Sussex as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the national furlough scheme and other national support approaches come to an end and evolve, there is the possibility that the economic outlook will continue to deteriorate.

This could result in lower levels of both council tax and business rates being collected which will directly impact us financially.

We cannot assume any further funding from Government in future years and given the scale of spending pressures facing us, we are unable to balance our budget through efficiency savings alone.

Regrettably, to balance our budget, we have to make some cuts to services that we know you, our residents, value.

We are also faced with the unavoidable option of having to rely on raising more revenue from council tax as a key funding stream, which we know passes financial pressure on to you, our residents.

Closing the budget gap

Last autumn we were facing a budget gap of £46.3m for this coming year (2021/22) we have managed to bridge this gap through a number of measures including finding  £18.5m in new savings and efficiencies, an increase in council tax and newly confirmed funding streams such as the government’s social care grant.

The full details of the budget’s investments and savings are on our website.

Figures show the budget gap - before any savings are applied - for the next three years from 2022/23 onwards is £35.8m, £13.9m and £4.2m - making a total budget gap of £53.9m for this three year period.

Your council tax bill

In order to balance the budget for the coming year, we are increasing council tax by 1.99 per cent - plus an additional 3 per cent for adult social care – making a total increase of 4.99 per cent.

This puts the County Council element of an average band D council tax bill at £1,510.56 – or just over £4 per day. This is an increase of £71.82 per year or just under 20p per day compared to last year’s bill.

Next steps

On 12 February 2021 Full Council agreed our final Our Council Plan, revenue budget, savings, and capital programme.

Some decisions related to the proposed savings will be taken later in the year, once the results of our public consultations have been taken into account.

It’s expected that several public consultations will soon start so you can have your say on how the proposed savings may affect you.

Our scrutiny committees will review individual savings proposals as they develop.

Our Council Plan will remain a live document and will be updated as needed over its four-year period to ensure it adapts to meet the needs of our residents and that we continue to make the best use of the funding we have available.

Further information

See our news alerts page to sign up to receive budget updates by email.

Updates will also be posted here and on our social media channels.

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