Release date: 31 January 2023
West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet has proposed a budget for 2023/24 that delivers for those in need whilst continuing to invest in priority areas.
Cllr Paul Marshall, Leader of the Council, said: “We have successfully managed our finances to ensure we have the funding to deliver on Our Council Plan priorities. This means we will deliver on our improvements in adults’ and children’s services whilst continuing to fund improvements in our infrastructure, particularly highways.
“Our proposed budget shows how we continue to fund the services our residents rely on, supporting those in need whilst investing where needed for all of our residents, communities, and businesses, and how we have delivered savings where necessary. We have set out our priorities in the Council Plan and this budget enables us to deliver on those priorities.”
Ensuring support and investment continues for all our residents and the essential services the County Council provides is the aim of the budget for the year ahead.
Cabinet Member for Finance and Property, Cllr Jeremy Hunt, said: “The current year has been particularly challenging with exceptionally high levels of inflation impacting the cost of delivering services. Not only that, but the increased demand on our teams supporting those adults, families, and children who need our support, is also adding to the cost of providing those services.
“We know residents have faced a tough year too with rising energy costs and increasing household bills. So now, more than ever, we need to ensure that we are spending their money wisely to help people who, for whatever reason, need our support the most, whilst also ensuring continued investment in our services and our infrastructure.”
Next year (2023/24) the County Council is planning to spend a total of £1.86 billion to deliver day-to-day services to a growing population of 882,676 residents and 37,400 businesses across the county.
Pressure and additional expense is being felt particularly in adults’ and children’s services, where the County Council is supporting people who have an increasing complexity of need.
Next year’s budget will include:
- £84m on waste services, climate change and our environment
- £80m on maintaining 4046km of roads & 3,956km of footways
- £435m supporting 8,500 adults through social care
- £36m (tbc) keeping 883,000 residents healthy through public health services.
- £174m supporting 880 children we care for, 760 children on Child Protection Plans, 1,585 children on Child in Need Plans and 2,130 families through early help
- £883m on support to 118,276 children in the 286 schools, 6,510 children with education health and care plans which has seen an increase of 90% since March 2015 and support to 2,400 families and young carers
Cllr Jeremy Hunt, said: “The government has announced an additional £16.3m next year for social care. Whilst we welcome this, the rising costs of more and more people needing our support, and the increasing complexity of the support they need, means unfortunately this does not cover the additional costs we are facing.
“We are very aware of the pressures everyone is feeling due to the current cost of living challenge, and we are continuing to look for the most efficient ways to deliver value for money services.
“However, we are in the difficult position of having to recommend a council tax increase. We don’t do this lightly. But this increase in council tax would mean we can balance our budget and protect vital services without drawing on the funds we hold in reserves to manage future challenges.”
The draft budget proposals include a plan to increase the County Council element of council tax by 2.99% - plus an additional 2% for adult social care – making a total increase of 4.99%. This would see an increase for an average Band D property of £77.67 per year or around £1.50 per week.
Leader of the County Council, Paul Marshall, added: “Despite the difficulties we are facing with funding our day-to-day services, we are also acutely aware of the need to continue to invest in our county in order to ensure our local economy and communities can flourish.
“That’s why this year we’re proposing that we invest an additional £4.5m into our highways and roads that have been so greatly impacted by the adverse weather over the last year, particularly flooding and potholes, and £0.5m into delivering on our skills and economic agenda."
This is in addition to a £747.2m rolling five-year programme of capital investment which is planned to focus on the county’s highways, environment, schools, buildings, and IT & digital infrastructure. Next year it is proposed that this should include:
- £12m to invest in environmental projects, reduce the County Council’s carbon footprint, and help it to become carbon neutral by 2030.
- £48m of investment for highways and transport reflecting the importance of the infrastructure for economic growth.
- £34m investment into the County’s schools and early year settings; and
- £5m into our accommodation to support vulnerable children.
The draft budget proposals were endorsed by the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on Wednesday 25 January.
Final decisions on the budget and any increase in council tax will be made at a meeting of Full Council on Friday 17 February at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester.
Find out more about the budget setting process and the council’s priorities at www.westsussex.gov.uk/budget
Anyone who wishes to make a comment on the budget can email email@example.com
Anyone struggling to pay their council tax is advised to contact their local district or borough council to see if they are eligible for a discount or exemption.
Further advice about local and national support available for people struggling with the rising cost of living can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/CostOfLiving