WE may be in a Cost of Living crisis – but your Council Tax is about to go up by around five per cent.

Around 80 per cent of your Council Tax goes to East Sussex Council, which is meeting next week.

As well as using reserves, Cabinet members will be asked to recommend a £538 million net draft budget to Full Council which could include a Council Tax increase of 4.99 per cent, needed to cover the increase in costs and demand for the wide range of services provided to residents.

The increase, which includes the additional two per cent for adult social care allowed by Government, would equal an additional £1.62 per week on a Band D property.

The cost of providing vital council services has risen sharply across the country especially for children and adults’ social care, where the impact of Covid, complexity of need and cost of living pressures, has driven up demand. Inflation, market pressures and high profit margins by some providers in children’s services have also significantly increased costs.

The county council has added £50 million to its annual spending for East Sussex in the budget proposed for 2024/25 to help meet these pressures, though it is not being funded to match the increased spending.

While the gap between rising costs and available resources can be temporarily bridged for the year ahead, the report warns that the deficit is expected to grow to £45 million in 25/26 and £61 million in 26/27, with the use of reserves no longer an option.

The council continues to call on central government for a more sustainable funding system and market intervention where necessary which will allow authorities to plan further ahead to meet statutory duties and local needs. The updated Council Plan included in the report sets out plans for services over the coming years and how the authority’s spending will be focused on priority areas.

The full Cabinet report is available at Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday, 23rd January, 2024, 10.00 am | East Sussex County Council

A final decision on the 2024/25 budget will be made by Full Council on Tuesday, February 6.