Council sets out financial position

Potential savings for the year ahead will be set out by West Sussex County Council in a public meeting on 24th November


Release date: 13 November 2020

Potential savings for the year ahead will be set out by West Sussex County Council in a public meeting on 24th November.

The County Council’s current budget gap for 2021/22 is £43.6million. This gap represents the difference between what funding the council expects to receive, versus what it expects to spend.

That figure includes the budget pressures it knows are coming.

The budget is being considered as part of the development of the Council’s services to ensure it is focusing the limited budget it has on the priorities it has developed.

This work is being driven through the development of the Our Council Plan – the council’s new corporate plan. The Our Council Plan guides how the Council spends the significant sums in its budget, ensures it is accountable for its delivery, and aligns the Council’s priorities to the budget.

That work is happening together with partners and staff to make sure there is a sustainable and long-term plan for the future.

To date the Council has identified £20.2m efficiencies and savings leaving a further £23.4m to find.  

For the following three years the Council anticipates gaps of £44m, £17m and £5.9m; a total budget gap of £110m over the four-year period, prior to considering savings options.

A list of potential savings to close the budget gap for 2021/2022 will be put before the council’s Cabinet on November 24.

The list includes:

  • reviewing day services
  • delayering work on management layers in the Children’s Services Department,
  • redesigning IT services,
  • review of council-owned estate and buildings
  • introducing measures to reduce the amount of DIY waste presented at Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS) and review of the HWRS network
  • reduction in additional bus pass access for specific groups including companion passes or users with a registered disability. There is no change to the statutory scheme 
  • ending community highway schemes and reallocating the capital budget to highways maintenance
  • working with parish councils in specific areas to review the library service offer available in the communities
  • not reopening the public café at County Hall, Chichester

A full list of proposed savings and the most up to date Our Council Plan will be available in the Cabinet papers which will be published later today.

Councillor Paul Marshall, Leader of the Council, said: “I am under no illusions that some of these proposals are unpalatable for many of our residents and they are not decisions we want to take. The global pandemic has had a huge impact on our residents but it has also made our financial situation extremely challenging. The needs of our residents, be that older people needing care and support or vulnerable young children needing protection, are growing as the financial support we receive shrinks. That was the case before COVID-19 hit and is even more keenly felt as we battle a global pandemic and the local impact that is having. As our residents struggle with job losses and we see local businesses close as a result of the pandemic that also has a direct impact on the income we receive through council tax and business rates.  We must focus the resources we have on protecting our most vulnerable and keeping people safe and that’s why we must look at our budget alongside the Our Council Plan which sets out how we will move forward as a county.

“However, we, like every local authority, have to take difficult decisions about things that really affect people’s lives. We do not do that lightly and I want to reassure residents that we will do everything possible to mitigate the impact where we can. We continue to lobby hard with national Government to help them to understand the impact of continuing increased demand, coupled with the pandemic, on local government. We have regularly briefed our local MPs on how local people are affected and continue to set out for them how this continued pressure on local authorities will impact on our communities and those we are here to support.”

West Sussex County Council has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to set out its position and the pressures it faces and has its next meeting with West Sussex MPs this week to talk through the detail of the savings plan.

If the list of proposals is agreed by Cabinet, there will further work done on the detailed planning before a formal decision is made next month.

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