Release date: 12 February 2021
Additional day-to-day funding for adults and children’s social care, an extra £12m investment in highways, and £10m to address the challenges of climate change are just some of the budget proposals which have been confirmed by West Sussex County Council.
County Councillors decided today (Friday 12 February) to approve an Our Council Plan which sets out what the County Council should focus on in the future, and how it should spend its money. They also approved the budget for the coming year, and a revised and updated five-year capital investment programme.
The Our Council Plan sets out the key priority outcomes for the council over the next four years, focusing on learning from the response to COVID-19 to ensure the council provides the best support it can for residents both now and in the future. The plan is part of the council’s improvement journey and guides how budgets are allocated and performance is measured.
The key priority outcomes are:
- Keeping people safe from vulnerable situations
- A sustainable and prosperous economy
- Helping people and communities to fulfil their potential
- Making the best use of resources
Climate change is central to all the priorities and this is backed up by a new capital investment of £10m over the next five years which will be used to help the council become carbon neutral by 2030 by investing in low-carbon upgrades when carrying out routine maintenance and other projects.
This is in addition to £42m which is already allocated for future energy generation and storage projects to explore green energy technology, reduce the council’s reliance on fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions, and generate a sustainable financial return for the council.
£12m additional investment will also be made in highway condition improvements on top of £87.5m already allocated in the capital programme to maintain and improve roads, cycle paths and pavements across the county.
Other projects and proposals in the five-year £666.5m capital programme include:
- A new live training facility and fire station at Horsham, ensuring future emergency response needs are met, and new equipment keeping the service supported with state-of-the-art emergency resources
- A range of investments in the Adults’ Social Care market
- Additional school places, including more accessible places for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
The net annual budget includes more than £600m in revenue expenditure for the day to day running of the council. This year’s budget includes further investment (excluding inflation) of £22m in services with particular investment in Adults and Children’s Social Care.
Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Last autumn we were facing a budget gap of £43.6m for this coming year (2021/22). We have managed to bridge this gap through a number of measures including finding £18.5m in savings and efficiencies, a ‘pay pause’ in line with Government policy for many local government staff, an increase in council tax, and newly confirmed funding streams such as the government’s social care grant.
“Raising council tax is not something we do lightly, and we are extremely conscious that many people may be struggling financially at the moment.
“However, the alternative would be to cut essential frontline services which our residents rely on.
“Now more than ever we know that people need the services which local government provide so we will continue to look for ways to make efficiency savings, whilst still providing these vital services.”
An increase in council tax of 1.99 per cent has been confirmed - plus an additional 3 per cent for adult social care – making a total increase of 4.99 per cent.
This puts the County Council element of an average band D council tax bill at £1,510.56 – or just over £4 per day. This is an increase of £71.82 per year or just under 20p per day compared to last year’s bill.
Jeremy added: “Whilst we continue to look for ways to fund our essential day-to-day revenue expenses, I’m pleased to say we’ve also had a very exciting capital programme of over £660m that not only supports our residents today, but which will also help our county to prosper in the future.”
For further information about the council’s financial position visit our website.