County Council approves council plan and budget to deliver investment and support

A council plan and budget which ensures support, investment and essential services continue for all West Sussex residents has been approved by West Sussex County Council.

Cllr Paul Marshall, Leader of the Council, said: “I am delighted that we are going to be able deliver a budget that continues to deliver for those in need whilst also ensuring continued investment in the priority areas set out in Our Council Plan.

“As well as the huge task we have of funding day-to-day services for vulnerable adults, children, and families, we have successfully managed our finances so we can continue to fund improvements in our highways and infrastructure for the benefit of our residents, communities, and businesses.

“I’m pleased to confirm that this year we will invest an additional £4.5m into our highways and roads that have been impacted so severely by the recent adverse weather.”

The council’s budget is integrated into the council’s ambitions, captured each year in a detailed Council Plan, which sets out what we propose to do and the specific targets we use to judge our performance during the year. The business planning of the Council continues to be underpinned by a relentless focus on four priority outcomes, underpinned by a cross cutting theme of tackling climate change.

The four priorities 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
A net budget of £708.8m was approved, following debate at a meeting of the full council and forms part of the council’s total spend of £1.86 billion in 2023/24 to deliver day-to-day services to a growing population of 882,676 residents and 37,400 businesses across the county.

This spend includes:

£883m to support 118,276 children in 286 schools, 6,510 children with education health and care plans, and 2,400 families and young carers
£458m to support 8,500 adults through social care, and to help keep people healthy through Public Health support
£174m to support 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
£84m on waste services, climate change, and our environment
£80m on maintaining 4046km of roads & 3,956km of footways
The budget includes an increase to the County Council element of council tax of 2.99% – plus an additional 2% for adult social care – making a total increase of 4.99%. This is an increase for an average Band D property of £77.67 per year or around £1.50 per week.

Cabinet Member for Finance and Property, Cllr Jeremy Hunt, said: “We know the exceptionally high levels of inflation and increasing costs we are all experiencing have been difficult for our residents. We are also feeling these pressures, alongside an increase in costs due to the complexity of the care required by an increasing number of the adults and children we support. I am therefore pleased that we have been able to deliver a balanced budget during these challenging circumstances.

“It is vitally important we spend our funds wisely on the areas which will help people the most, whilst also maintaining continued investment in our services and our infrastructure. For 2023/24 we have been able to achieve this by investing an additional net £60.5m – equal to a 9.5% budget increase – in order to ensure that our key services are not only maintained, but we are also able to continue to improve them, in order to achieve the best outcomes for our residents. A key part of our striving for the best outcomes for our residents is ensuring value for money for every penny we spend”.

Cllr 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, our local economy, and our communities.

“Over the next five years we will invest £747.2 million in the county’s highways, environment, schools, buildings, and IT & digital infrastructure through our Capital Programme.”

The Capital Programme spend will include:

£110m on highway’s maintenance and local transport improvements
£86m on improvements to major roads
£109m to provide additional school places including a further £53.5m to build a new ultra-low-carbon secondary school in Burgess Hill
£32m to deliver more places for children with special educational needs
£18.5m to make our buildings more environmentally friendly by reducing carbon emissions
£49m on solar power and battery storage renewable energy schemes
£25m to make it easier for people to visit town centres in Crawley, Burgess Hill, Worthing, Arun, and Adur
£13m for the roll out of high speed ‘gigabit’ broadband for businesses and residents
Find out more about the budget and the council’s priorities

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.