County council proposing to increase its council tax

Residents in 1066 Country and the rest of East Sussex could see a hike in their council tax bills as the county council proposes a rise of almost two per cent.

The authority said it faces a continued squeeze on its funding from the Government and needed to make savings.

At its meeting Tuesday (January 27), East Sussex County Council’s cabinet will consider proposed savings of £18 million in the new financial year which begins in April.

The reduction would bring the total savings the authority has had to make over three years to £67 million. It said the saving is needed mainly because of a cut in the core grant that central government gives to East Sussex - down by a third, or 34 per cent, in the past five years.

The proposed budget, which will be put to a vote of the full council next month, also includes raising council tax by 1.95 per cent to help maintain services. This increase would equate to 44 pence a week for a Band D property.

East Sussex County Council said it wants to focus spending on the authority’s priorities of protecting vulnerable residents, driving economic growth and helping people to help themselves, for example by giving them more choice over their care.

Around two-thirds of the council’s £365 million net spending goes to Children’s Services and Adult Social Care. The proposed budget includes spending £49 million on care and support for older people, almost £45 million on learning disabilities and £35 million on support for children and families.

In other areas the budget proposes spending more than £22 million on transport and highways and £26 million on the environment.

Councillor David Elkin, lead member for resources, said: “The continuing reduction in our funding means we have less money to spend even as demand for our services is rising, especially as a result of an ageing population. We’ve proven in recent years that we can be trusted to act prudently and responsibly, but the climate of austerity we’re operating in means more difficult decisions have to be made. An increase in council tax is not something we treat lightly, but would help us control our resources at a time of great uncertainty and ensure we can continue to run the services which really matter to people.”

Cabinet will consider the draft budget on Tuesday, before making a recommendation to full council, which will reach a final decision on February 10.