By Cllr Nick Bennett, lead member for resources and climate change.
This is the time of year when decisions are made about how to spend your money on services for the people of East Sussex.
The good news is that we’re suggesting £453 million of spending – on everything from libraries, roads and pavements to caring for your neighbours, friends and family who need help most.
And we’re not suggesting any new cuts to services. In fact, over the past year, the opportunity has arisen to cancel planned savings of £1.7million in children’s services, including almost £900,000 in support for struggling families. We’d like to use this money to continue helping the most under-pressure households with children.
These are the spending plans we backed at the cabinet of East Sussex County Council this week. Now this budget for 2022/23 will go to the full council for a final decision on 8 February.
Most of our spending, quite rightly, goes on helping the most vulnerable in East Sussex. That’s many of the people who are frail and elderly, disabled or need extra help with learning or other assistance to lead a decent life.
Unfortunately, the effects of Covid and other changes mean even more people will need services to help them in years to come.
And, as it stands, we’re likely to face a £10 million funding gap by 2025 so we need to make decisions now to ensure we’re ready for the challenge ahead.
Asking people to pay some more council tax for county council services isn’t something we do lightly, but it will help ensure that help’s available in future for those who need it most. That’s why our budget proposes charging an extra £1.33 per week for a typical (Band D) household.
It would also help us to put forward an extra £5 million for more vital public services in the year ahead, especially where we know spending now will reduce money pressure in future.
Increasing council tax is not the only measure we are taking. We’ll continue to find better and more efficient ways of working with partners that reduce cost and lobbying Government on funding East Sussex’s needs.
In this budget we’re also suggesting more spending on things we know many of you see as a priority including more repairs to pavements and roads and more to combat climate change.
I’d like to thank everyone in the county for your contribution, whether it’s the council tax you pay, the business you run or the effort you make in your community.
You elect us as county councillors to do the best job we can, but it’s the strengths of everyone in East Sussex which help us plan for a good future.
If you’d like more on the planned budget, you can find the full cabinet papers on the Your Council section of our website.