Considerable work has gone into the West Sussex Future Plan over the last couple of years as we planned to meet the challenge of £124 million pounds of savings.
Being very clear about what you want to achieve is always important but when you have a lot less money it becomes a real driving force. The plan focuses on 3 core priorities – Start of Life, The Economy and Later Life with some guiding principles.
We are there to help people to help themselves, we are there in an emergency and we are there to look after the weak and the vulnerable. So the plan becomes the driving force for this year’s budget and future ones.
So what does this budget hold for our residents?
Well perhaps most importantly it will not cost our residents a penny more on their Council Tax Bill as this is the 5th consecutive year we have not increased the Council Tax, preferring to take the Government’s incentive not to increase the council Tax.
This is something I am particularly proud of as I know how, from comments from residents, that this means a lot.
However, we have had to make savings this year and the next. Although our budget is more than 500 million the principles of we manage it are similar to any household budget. We look at all our outgoings and see what is essential, not so essential and nice to haves. Can we get something cheaper, could we renegotiate contracts and make savings, if we invest in something will it mean the ongoing cost is less? These are challenges and questions we have made over the last year to get us to where we are today.
Next year will see us spend more than £500 million on key services across West Sussex. And, despite the challenging financial climate, we are also ploughing nearly £140 million worth of capital investment back into West Sussex.
Key capital investment next year includes:
•£6.4million investment in high speed broadband capability across the county;
•A further £15m in the Better Roads programme to improve many of the county’s residential and rural roads;
•Significant investment in infrastructure improvements, including £20m investment in economic development, to ensure businesses can flourish;
Among the measures included in the revenue budget for next year are:
•£5m to alleviate pressure on the Council’s adult services’ budget arising from the increasing number of older residents;
•£900,000 in support of the Local Welfare Provision Fund which helps families and individuals in crisis.
•£5m further investment in the Council’s Think Family programme, which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support.
•£1.4m to address rising demand within the Child Disability budget
•£0.9m more to meet the rising amount of waste requiring disposal.
You can watch Friday’s meeting live via webcast from www.westsussex.gov.uk or pop along. It’s a public meeting and we always welcome residents. The meeting starts at 10.30am and is being held in Chichester College
Louise Goldsmith.Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.