Mid Sussex District Council takes £540,000 from reserves to balance its budget for 2024/25

Mid Sussex District Council has balanced its budget for 2024/25 but only by taking £540,000 from its reserves.
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The figures were shared during a meeting of the cabinet on Monday (February 5) where a 2.95 per cent rise in council tax was also proposed. If approved by the full council on February 28, this will see the authority’s portion of the average Band D bill rise by £5.49 to £190.80 for the year.

With costs rising and financial offerings from the government falling, councils up and down the country have been struggling to make ends meet. Anne-Marie Cooke, cabinet member for finance, referred to reports that 40 per cent of councils were at risk of financial failure over the next five years. She said: “We are not in that position but we can’t afford to be – and won’t be – complacent.”

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While this is positive news, the coming years look anything but rosy. A report to the cabinet forecast budget gaps of £1.547m in 2025/26, £5.423m in 2026/27 and £5.353m in 2027/28.

Robert Eggleston, Mid Sussex District CouncilRobert Eggleston, Mid Sussex District Council
Robert Eggleston, Mid Sussex District Council

Looking at 2024/25, there are ups and downs in the budget. Fees and charges – such as car parking fees, charges for the collection of green waste, and the cost of a hackney cab licence – will increase.

But the 3,000-home trial run for the collection of food waste will continue, with all homes expected to be involved by March 2026.

Total net spending for the coming financial year is set at £23.079m.

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Leader Robert Eggleston explained that the amount needed to balance the budget had been around £1.8m.

Council TaxCouncil Tax
Council Tax

But the use of Treasury Management income helped to reduce the amount taken from the general reserve.

Describing the ‘structural gap ‘ between the council’s income and its expenditure, Mr Eggleston said he was ‘proud’ that the cabinet had opted not to cut staff or services.

And he warned that continuing to dip into the reserves would see the council taking a ‘slow walk to bankruptcy’.

He added: “It would be absolutely foolish of this cabinet – or indeed of any cabinet or any councillor – to propose that as a solution to the issues that we face over the Medium Term Financial Plan.”