VIDEO: County budget ‘does its bit’ to help residents

A PROPOSED budget which will save £68.3m will ‘do its bit’ to help residents, according to county council’s cabinet.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) cabinet members praised the council’s proposed budget for 2015/16 and 2016/17 for managing to freeze its share of council tax for the fifth year in a row despite its grant from central government being reduced by £20.5m.

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“We’ve done our bit – my god we’ve done our bit to help the people of this county,” said Michael Brown, cabinet member for finance.

“We’ve held prices for services constant and I’m proud of that.”

The cabinet met on Tuesday, January 27, and heard that the council will need to save £68m over the next two years to help it plug a hole of £124m over the next four years.

The budget set out where the first two years of saving will 
be made.

More than £5m will be saved from adult social care and health services, more than £4.5m will be saved from Children Start of Life services and just under £8m will be saved from residents’ services.

Mr Brown added that no frontline services would be cut as part of these savings.

The budget has factored in a grant of around £16m from NHS England which the council must use to help reduce pressure on hospitals. That sum has not officially been granted yet.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, said: “People enjoy working and living in the county. People live a long and healthy and fit life. We are there to protect the weak and the vulnerable.”

Roads, adults’ services, schools and care homes are set to get investment of £138m in 2015/16 while the cabinet is proposing that the County Council freezes tax for the fifth year running.

Mrs Goldsmith said when the new Care Act comes into force in April this year, it will put more responsibilities into the hands of the council, which will be challenging but ultimately good for residents.

Under the new act, the 
council will have to identify the local support and resources available to people in the community, and help people to access them.

Mr Brown said the council did not yet know how much the new responsibilities would cost, but the budget had allowed £8m to cater for additional costs.

Peter Lewis, executive director for corporate resources and services, added that £3m has been set aside for unknown costs.

Sussex Police’s share of 
council tax will be increased in 2015/16 by 1.98 per cent. This means that local taxpayers will pay an additional £2.79 for policing per year per household (for a band-D property).