Released: 12 July 2019
West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet has met in public to consider savings options to take forward in the 2020-21 budget as part of the decision making in the Autumn.
Detailed plans for 12 out of a total 18 options reviewed by the Cabinet meeting will now be developed and considered for future decisions later this year and will be published in the County Council’s Forward Plan.
Assuming a council tax increase of 1.99%, the budget gap facing West Sussex County Council for 2020-21 is £27.9M.
Options to reduce housing-related support, highways place based services and the number of household waste recycling sites were withdrawn from further consideration for savings in 2020-21, following full debate.
Options to review transport-to-care services, reduce supported bus services and cease discretional bus passes were paused with a possible review later in the year if the budget gap has not been closed and as clarity emerges on future Government funding provision.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “We are facing an extremely difficult financial situation and it means we have to look at a number of unpalatable options. Today at the public Cabinet, having listened to the contribution from Members we have withdrawn some of the options put forward.
“In running this budget process we have allowed ourselves enough time to look at how we can mitigate the impact of any change in services to the people affected.
“We will continue to lobby Government vigorously to increase funding for adult social care and to introduce a funding model for local government that gives us financial certainty over the next five years.”
Cabinet also agreed to consider a number of additional options for future savings including: renting out library space out-of-hours; leasing unused space in council-owned buildings and a further optimisation of our property assets; reducing the size of the communities and partnerships team and the communications and policy teams.
The more detailed budget options will be scrutinised by the council’s select committees during their autumn round of meetings before the savings programme is agreed at December’s County Council meeting.
In January 2020, Cabinet will formally recommend the 2020/21 budget to the County Council, which meets in February.
West Sussex County Council has made almost £240 million of savings since 2010, with our funding cut by £155 million by Government, but we still have a gross budget gap of £127.3 million, before council tax rises, to close over the next 4 years.
Full details of the budget options proposed can be found in the Cabinet papers.