A refreshed five-year capital investment programme and steps to balance the overall budget were today (Friday 15 December) approved by West Sussex County Council.
Members agreed a five-year Capital Investment Programme which will see a total of £800m invested in key priorities including new school places, major road schemes, boosting the local economy, and sustainable energy projects.
Members at the meeting at County Hall, Chichester also agreed savings and efficiencies of £18.7m, identified to partially bridge a £22.3m budget gap for 2018/19, caused by an increased demand on services and reduced funding from central government.
The meeting heard that further budget options of £3.6m are still required before the final budget is agreed on 16 February next year.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of the Council said: “This is our commitment to our county, our residents and our businesses, that we are investing when others are not. We are investing in our infrastructure, our economy to grow and develop the county and make sure we are there for everyone in West Sussex.”
Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “The County Council has a strong track record of identifying and delivering savings whilst protecting priority services.
“Since 2010 the County Council has achieved savings of close to £200m so I am confident we are on course to deliver a balanced budget.
“At the same time we have identified a wide ranging and exciting package of investment which will provide vital infrastructure, crucial services and a boost to local businesses.”
A final decision will also be made in February on the level of council tax. It is proposed that council tax will increase by 1.95 per cent in 2018/19 with a further 2 per cent increase to meet the cost of adult social care. This is the equivalent of an extra 95 pence per week for the average Band D household in West Sussex.
Jeremy added: “Increasing council tax is never an easy decision, but with decreasing income from central government it is now unfortunately unavoidable.
“We need to ensure we are able to protect frontline services while still allowing room to invest in the future of our county.”
The proposals are subject to the government’s financial settlement, which is expected by the end of the year, and will confirm the expected funding allocation for the county council for 2018/19.
Some of the key investments over the next five years including:
- schools and younger residents - delivering more than 2,500 new places for our children planned by2020;
- roads and highways - funding major road schemes focused on improving safety and unlocking growth potential across the county;
- sustainable energy - developing more solar farms, with the latest energy storage technologies, including for our schools; and
- the local economy, supporting growth deals across the county, aiming to create 10,000 new jobs and delivering nearly 600,000 square metres of commercial floor space between now and 2022/23.