Action pledge on challenge posed by elderly in East Sussex

Commons debate: Huw Merriman MP
Commons debate: Huw Merriman MP

The Government has said it will look at the unique challenges faced by East Sussex County Council caused by it having one of the highest proportions of elderly residents in the country.

Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid, congratulated the approach the county council has taken to managing “the challenges it faces” and pledged that the impact of demographics and an ageing population would be one of the issues considered in a Green Paper next summer.

He was responding to a question in last week’s House of Commons debate on Local Government Finance posed by Heathfield and Herstmonceux MP, Huw Merriman.

His comments came in the same week as the county council submitted a ‘Stand Up for East Sussex’ petition containing almost 6,000 signatures to the Government calling for a fairer funding deal for the county. It’s a campaign that has cross-party support.

One of the issues raised in the petition is that the county’s large proportion of elderly residents means demand for social care services is rising at a time when the council is having to make millions of pounds worth of savings due to funding cuts.

Mr Merriman told the debate the county council had made £110m in budget savings, did not have “a great business rate yield” from local businesses, and was a place that many people chose to retire. He asked the Minister to consider the impact this set of circumstances has on the county.

Speaking after the debate, the Leader of East Sussex County Council, Keith Glazier, said: “I am grateful to Huw Merriman for raising this issue in the House of Commons and I sincerely hope the Government will indeed take the issue extremely seriously. East Sussex is a wonderful place to live, to work and to retire and but we’ve reached the point where national support for East Sussex has shrivelled to harmfully-low levels.

“We launched our Stand Up for East Sussex campaign because sometimes it feels as though the needs of the people who live and work here are out of sight. It’s fair that we play our part in reducing national public spending even when that involves some very tough decisions. But a genuinely fair deal for our county would allow us and our partners to make real improvements to peoples’ lives.”