Increased funding for vital day-to-day services, sound financial management, and intelligent investments to improve our county lies at the heart of West Sussex County Council’s budget for 2022/23, approved on Monday 28 February.
Members approved this year’s budget for 2022/23 and Capital Programme through to 2025/26, which has been carefully balanced to meet the needs of our county in these ongoing uncertain times while at the same time taking positive steps for years yet to come.
The budget, approved at a meeting at County Hall, Chichester, complements Our Council Plan, the strategy which sets out the priorities for the Council and support for people who live and work in West Sussex.
Together the Revenue and Capital budget elements underpin the sound financial management required to maintain and improve the services that the Council provides. The 2022/23 revenue budget is £648 million and the Capital Programme amounts to £755 million.
The budget for the year ahead includes the following investments that are designed to improve our county:
• Climate Change: Investment of £10 million of capital funding to support the delivery of the Council’s Carbon Net Zero strategy.
• Adult Social Care: Investment to protect the market sustainability of care and support, to make sure people can get help when they need it. This includes £7.5 million to support changes in population and the increasing complexity of care. There is also a total of £16.7 million to reflect the increase in costs, for both the county council and our providers, due to increases in the National Living Wage, the new National Insurance rate and general costs of inflation.
• Children’s Services: This budget area sees investment of £2.7 million towards the increase in demand for services, £0.4 million for the in-house residential strategy, £1.8 million for the vital Fostering Redesign which will help some of our county’s most vulnerable children and £0.3 million for children’s emotional wellbeing & mental health services. Further investment of £1 million has been made to support the Children First Improvement Programme which is making positive change for the service.
• Highways: An additional investment of £2.6 million of revenue funding, with £2.4m of funding specifically earmarked to address safety critical areas. In addition to this, a further £21 million of capital funding will be invested in the road maintenance programme over five years.
Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “The budget agreed today is all about looking after our residents, protecting services, and providing essential support across the county. It is a resilient and responsible approach as we face the many challenges of coming out of the pandemic, including tackling the growing threat of climate change. Our carefully considered budget aligns with Our Council Plan, the strategy which sets out how money should be spent and performance measured. I am pleased we are able to provide this stability for residents in the year ahead.”
The agreed budget means council tax will rise by 2.99 per cent – this includes a 1.99 per cent general increase plus an additional 1 per cent dedicated for adult social care. This puts the County Council element of an average band D council tax bill at £1,555.74, or £4.26 per day. This is an average increase of 87 pence per week compared to last year’s bill.
The budget aligns with Our Council Plan, the corporate strategy setting out the key priority outcomes for the council through to 2025. The budget supports the plan’s four priorities, underpinned by cross cutting theme of tackling climate change. The priorities are:
• Keeping people safe from vulnerable situations
• A sustainable and prosperous economy
• Helping people and communities fulfil their potential
• Making the best use of resources
Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Our budget approved today strengthens our financial resilience, ensuring the delivery of vital day-to-day services can continue, despite rising demand and cost pressures, alongside sound investments that will make a real difference for all residents across West Sussex for many years to come.
“Now more than ever we know that people need the essential services which local government provide. This is a budget where we have ensured there are no new additional savings for the year ahead and have instead looked at ways to invest in strengthening services, and make sure we remain in a strong financial position.
“I’m very pleased these responsible and positive budget proposals have been approved today and builds on the strong foundations to deliver excellent outcomes for the residents of our county.”
The Cabinet rigorously reviewed the proposed budget before final approval and also considered comments from the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee, which met on Monday 31 January.
Our Council Plan is a four year plan that will be adapted to meet the changing needs of our residents and ensure that we continue to make the best use of the funding we have available.
For further information about the council’s financial position: visit: www.westsussex.gov.uk/budget.