COUNCIL leaders are meeting this morning to discuss how the authority’s £417 million budget will be used to best support vital services.

Crucially, it will mean a FIVE PER CENT RISE in what we pay.

East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet will consider recommendations for the 2021/22 budget which include no new cuts beyond those already considered by the council last year.

An increase in Council Tax of 1.99 per cent is recommended and councillors will also be asked to consider splitting a further three per cent increase, allowed by Government to safeguard social care services, over two years.

If both elements are agreed, a household living in a Band D property will pay an additional £1 a week towards county council services.

The added social care spending would include further support for people in East Sussex suffering the effects of Covid-19, part of growing pressure on the care system.

If agreed by Cabinet at next Tuesday’s (26) meeting, the recommendations will be presented to Full Council for approval next month.

Council tax increases would be needed to protect services that so many people rely upon amid growing demand for support and increasing costs.

Referring to the adult social care precept, the Cabinet report says: “We are able to propose spreading the precept over two years. This balances the need to maintain our essential support to the most vulnerable, whilst also recognising the additional pressures currently faced by our residents as a consequence of COVID-19.”

Despite the devastating impact of Covid-19 and its effect on council services, the recommended 2021/22 budget does not drop below the council’s core offer – a minimum level of service the authority says residents should be able to expect.

Over the past decade the council has had to make savings of £138 million and has face some difficult decisions. With careful financial planning and increased partnership working, Cabinet is able to consider a budget which recommends no new cuts to services and would give people in East Sussex some stability in difficult times.

Despite being able to maintain our core offer for the coming year, council leaders continue to lobby central Government for more sustainable funding and highlight the challenges East Sussex faces in future years.

Details of the recommended budget for 2021/22 can be viewed at https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=133&MId=4368&Ver=4

The Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 26 at 9.30am can be watched live at www.eastsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

Members of the Cabinet will be asked to make recommendations to Full Council and a final decision on the 2021/22 budget will be made on Tuesday, February 9.