FUNDING for vital services would once again be protected under the latest proposals for East Sussex County Council’s 2023/24 budget – along with a 4.99 per cent rise in what you will pay.

Papers released ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 24 show how the authority could spend £500 million  on services including schools, roads, libraries and support for the most vulnerable residents, with no new cuts to spending.

A decade of careful financial planning has put the county council in a strong position, but a significant increase in demand on services, coupled with rising costs, means residents would be asked to pay more in council tax under the proposed budget. This would include a 2.99 per cent increase in council tax combined with a two per cent increase for adult social care.

The report tells how Government funding calculations for 2023/24 assume councils will take both the higher level of council tax and additional adult social care precept and that this will be factored into its allocation of funding to local authorities.

The additional funding will enable the council to continue to deliver services based on its priority outcomes, ensuring it keeps vulnerable people safe, makes the best use of resources, drives sustainable economic growth and helps people across the county to help themselves.

“Given the very significant risks we face in the medium term we do need to apply these increases to safeguard services for the future,” the report says. It identifies a funding gap of £41 million by 2025 unless more support is given to East Sussex.

Under the proposals, the council’s capital programme would include continued investment in improvements to the highways infrastructure, school places, SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) provision, as well as further supporting the council’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint from its operations.

The draft budget will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday, January 24 where Cabinet members will agree recommendations to be presented to Full Council on Tuesday, February 7.

The full Cabinet report can be viewed at https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=133&MId=5084