West Sussex County Council will meet next week (Friday 17 February) to agree its budget and a number of investments in key projects across the county.
The budget has been planned in line with the priorities of ‘keeping you safe’, ‘providing education and schools’ and ‘roads, buses and countryside’, which were identified by residents last year in the County Council’s ‘What Matters to You’ survey.
The meeting, at County Hall in Chichester, will hear how next year’s budget has been balanced. It will also hear about significant investments being made in key priority areas such as schools, roads and the Fire and Rescue Service as part of a £587m capital programme for the next five years.
Efficiencies and savings have been put forward to bridge a challenging financial gap of £46.1m for 2017/18, resulting from demand on social care services and a continued reduction in central government funding. The County Council has identified £16.8m savings across of number of services and is proposing to use £9.4m of reserves to ensure front line services remain protected for residents.
The remaining amount is due to be found via a council tax increase of 1.95% plus an additional 2% to fund adult social care, providing a total of 3.95%, the equivalent of an extra 92 pence per week for the average Band D household.
Two thirds of residents who responded to the ‘What Matters to You’ survey in 2016 said they would be happy for their council tax to increase by 3.75 per cent or more.
County Council Leader, Louise Goldsmith, said: “As in previous years we have carefully looked at our budget and have made efficiencies and savings wherever possible. We have looked closely at what residents have told us is important to them and have made considered decisions about how to spend the funds we have available to us.
“An increase in council tax is unfortunately inevitable if we want to protect frontline services. But we have kept the increase as low as possible in order to reduce the financial impact on our residents as much as we can.”
The meeting will also hear about the proposed capital investments of £587m in our communities over the next five years including £203m for schools, £11m to improve the quality of footways and pavements, £13m on highways maintenance, £20m to work with adult social care providers to help develop the care market, 11m for equipment and fleet for the Fire and Rescue Service and £30m to support growth projects across the county.
Louise added: “Whilst we have been careful to make savings, we have also made sure to look for opportunities for investment to ensure West Sussex remains a great place to live and work.”
The meeting will start at 10.30am. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The meeting will also be webcast.