The Council’s spending and the level of council tax for the year ahead will soon be decided. The annual council Budget meeting is taking place on Friday 18 February.
Members will gather at County Hall to debate and vote on the Annual Council Budget proposals for 2022/23, including our proposed Capital Programme through to 2025/26.
This year’s Council’s Budget 2022/23 has been carefully balanced to meet the needs of our county in these uncertain times, while at the same time taking positive steps for years yet to come.
Together the Revenue and Capital budget elements underpin the sound financial management required to maintain and improve the services that the Council provides. The proposed 2022/23 revenue budget is £648 million and the proposed Capital Programme amounts to £755 million.
In general terms, the revenue budget covers the running costs of Council services and is funded by Council Tax, grants (some of which are ringfenced), and fees and charges. The Capital Budget covers long term investment in assets where their value will be realised over more than one year, (such as school buildings and roads), and includes capital projects that may take more than one annual budget cycle to deliver.
As part of this year’s budget, a total increase in Council Tax of 2.99 per cent is proposed. This includes a 1.99 per cent general increase plus an additional 1 per cent dedicated for adult social care. This is an average increase of £45.18 on a Band D property, which is 87 pence per week compared to last year’s bill.
In more detail, the budget includes the following commitments that are designed to improve our county and are in line with Our Council Plan:
• 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.
Cllr Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “This budget strengthens our financial resilience and has intelligent investments that will make a real difference for the residents of our county. The funding will ensure the continued delivery of our important day to day services, as well as investing in areas of growth that all our residents will benefit from for many years to come.
“We have now lived through almost two years of pandemic pressures, with all the associated uncertainty. This is a budget where we have made sure there are no additional savings for the year ahead and instead have looked at ways to best invest for the good of residents.
“A key priority is in meeting our commitment to protect the vulnerable. This can be seen in our firm investment in adult and children services, including support for vital safeguarding services.
“We’ve also dedicated capital investment to tackling climate change. The climate crisis is clearly a serious risk that will continue to rise in prominence. We are taking action now to protect all our futures.
“I’m very pleased to be able to bring these responsible and positive budget proposals for consideration at our Budget Council meeting next month.”
The 2022/23 budget proposals align with Our Council Plan, the corporate strategy setting out the key priority outcomes for the council through to 2025. The plan builds on learning from the response to Covid-19 to ensure the Council provides the best support possible for residents, both now and in the future.
The annual 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.
The Cabinet will review the proposed budget for 2022/23 before it goes to a meeting of the Full Council on February 18 for final approval.