Council prepared to face challenging times in East Sussex

Cllr David ElkinCOUNCIL chiefs will be making sure every penny they spend in East Sussex counts as they face spending reductions of up to £90million over the next three years.

A report due at East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet on Monday June 29, will consider how the council can continue to provide the services local people need while reducing spending by as much as £90million in the three years between April 2016 and March 2019.

While the authority will still be able to spend around £350million on key services, the savings it needs to find represent at least 20 per cent of its annual resources.

The council has already reduced spending by £78million since 2010 to bridge the gap left by cuts in funding from central Government, a growing demand for services and restrictions on raising money.

Cllr David Elkin, deputy leader at the county council and lead member for resources, said: “We recognise that we face really challenging times and the scale of the savings we have to make is huge, but we have shown that we have the skills to make sure that every penny we have is spent as effectively as possible to help local people get the services they need.”

The four priorities agreed by the council; protecting the vulnerable, growing the economy, helping communities become more self-reliant and making the best use of resources, will be used to prioritise spending.

“This is the start of a detailed process of planning our activities for next the years,” Cllr Elkin added. “While we continue to spend around £350million on a range of vital services, we will have to concentrate our shrinking resources where they’re most needed.

“This will mean we will need to change how some services are provided, others may have to stop altogether and we may have to reduce many others. We’ll look for imaginative ways of working with communities and partners if they have ideas for doing things differently – but the truth is that services in East Sussex will look very different at the end of this process.”

The report stresses that deep efficiency savings, including a 25 per cent reduction in senior management, have already been made at the council and that the scale of savings now needed means cuts to frontline services can no longer be avoided.  It suggests some of the areas where further savings should be considered and where the council could generate more income.

The report also identifies the growing pressures on services in East Sussex which include projections for an additional 5,700 residents aged over 65 and 1,600 aged over 85 by 2019. It also highlights that the cost of introducing the Care Act in East Sussex from 2016, could be as much as £30million a year.

Click here for the full report.