Roads, adults’ services, schools and care homes are set to get investment of £138million in 2015/16 while the Cabinet is proposing that the County Council freezes tax for the fifth year running.
WSCC’s proposed budget was formally endorsed by the authority’s Performance and Finance Select Committee at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The budget will now be considered by the Cabinet on January 27, before the final decision is taken about whether to approve it by Full Council at a meeting on February 13.
Included in budget plans is:
- Freezing the amount that West Sussex residents pay for county council services for the fifth year running.
- £5m per year for the next two years to alleviate pressure on our adult services’ budget
- Multi million pound investment in high speed broadband capability across the county
- A further £15m in the Better Roads programme to improve many of the county’s residential and rural roads
- Significant investment in infrastructure improvements to ensure businesses can flourish
- Further investment in the Council’s Think Family programme which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support
WSCC’s grant from government has been cut by £20.5million and, over the last four years, the council has made savings of more than £100 million. The proposed budget outlines further savings of £68million over the next two years.
The authority has an operating budget of more than £500million and provides 80% of local government services to the county’s 800,000 plus residents.
Deborah Urquhart, Chairman of the Council’s Performance and Finance Select Committee, said: “Members of the committee have scrutinised the budget and the savings proposals.
“The Council faces enormous financial challenges, as we know families across the county do.
“We believe that this is a budget that supports the Council’s key priority areas at the same time as keeping as much money as we can in people’s pockets.”
Michael Brown, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “The financial pressures that local government face will not ease.
“We have been careful with our residents’ money and we are not resting on our laurels. The Government has made it clear in its Autumn Statement that the austerity regime will continue for many years and informed commentators forecast as much reduction in government support to local government in the next parliament as we have had in this one.
“Therefore, we continue to drive for efficiencies in all services.
“There will, almost inevitably, be painful decisions to be made in future years, but the prudent planning we have undertaken aims to minimise that pain.”
West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet will consider the budget when it meets on January 27. The meeting is open to members of the public.
The proposal to freeze council tax will then be put to full council, along with the rest of the budget, on February 13.