Council tax rise and budget to be debated at County Hall

Savings proposals are due to be discussed at County Hall later this week
Savings proposals are due to be discussed at County Hall later this week

West Sussex County Council’s budget for the next financial year is set to be discussed tomorrow (Friday February 15).

The meeting, at County Hall in Chichester, will hear how the proposed 2019/20 budget of £574.9m has been balanced as well as details of the five-year capital programme.

The Conservative administration is looking to increase the county council’s share of council tax by 4.99 per cent, of which two per cent would be dedicated to fund adult social care.

This would mean an extra £66 a year for a Band D property.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, said: “Over the years we have delivered significant savings so we’re used to working in a challenging financial situation.

“We are still delivering key services to our residents and supporting those in need, and fulfilling our statutory obligations under our West Sussex plan.

“It’s not all bleak – through our capital programme we are investing in our communities across the county.

“When we need to, we are also investing to save and we are investing to generate much-needed income.”

The Lib Dems have already signalled their intention to put forward an amendment to reverse cuts to bus subsidies, Public Health, and housing-related support services.

According to the county council significant investments are planned in key priority areas as set out in the West Sussex plan. These include:

• An additional £6.1 million new investment in Children and Young People’s services and an additional £7.3 million investment in Adults and Health.

• Additional investment in Special Support Centres to help to keep students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools with their peers and in their local area.

• An additional £3 million in extra care schemes to help keep older people living independently for longer.

• A further £44.5 million investment in a sustainable energy programme which includes the installation of solar farms and battery storage on unused council land.

• A £5 million programme to create community hubs and protect key services by bringing them together under one roof.

• £13.8 million investment in corporate and fire fleet vehicles and £1.8 million in specialist fire equipment to support our Fire and Rescue Service.

• A £22.5 million investment in digital infrastructure supporting businesses and rural communities.

Since 2010, the council has saved more than £200m and in the same period, government funding has been cut by £145m.

The county council faced a challenging financial gap of £50.9m for 2019/20 alone, due to increasing demand on social care services and a continued reduction in central government funding.

As a result, it has identified £23.4m of savings across a number of services.

Members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting which will be held at County Hall in Chichester at 10.30am. The meeting will also be webcast.