Worthing council leader 'disappointed' after ‘core spending power’ figure revealed

Worthing Borough Council’s leader said the government has once again failed to ‘provide us with the funding we need’.
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The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the details of how much each council will be given in government funds to pay for services in 2024.

“Its published ‘core spending power’ figure for Worthing is £14,826,895 for 2024/25 – an increase of £584,405 compared to the £14,242,490 earmarked for the borough for this year,” a borough council spokesperson said.

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"However that increase includes the amount that Worthing will receive from residents if it puts up council tax by the maximum three per cent set by the government.

A drone image of Worthing. Photo: Eddie MitchellA drone image of Worthing. Photo: Eddie Mitchell
A drone image of Worthing. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

"Only £272,574 of the increase represents extra government funding, which is the equivalent of an extra £2.44 per person in Worthing – less than it can cost to buy a sandwich.”

Dr Beccy Cooper, the leader of Worthing Borough Council, is unhappy with the government’s 2024/25 funding settlement for the local authority.

She said: “The government has failed to provide us with the funding we need for over a decade so I’m disappointed but not surprised that we should be so poorly supported by it again in 2024.

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“We’ve been planning for this eventuality for several months now so although we will have to make some significant changes to the way we deliver services, we will balance the budget.

Worthing Borough Council leader Beccy Cooper. Picture: Adur & Worthing CouncilsWorthing Borough Council leader Beccy Cooper. Picture: Adur & Worthing Councils
Worthing Borough Council leader Beccy Cooper. Picture: Adur & Worthing Councils

“This pathetic rise in funding does little to help us support the most vulnerable in our community, but as a council for the community we will step up again to ensure everyone in Worthing gets the services they need.”

This comes after a forecast £1.8million overspend by Worthing Borough Council left services and assets under review. The council said in October that it could look to build more houses – and increase parking charges – as it aims to reduce the risk of bankruptcy.

A spokesperson for the council said: “A rising number of residents need to be housed because they would otherwise be homeless, causing a significant spike in costs.

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"More than 300 Worthing residents are currently having to be housed outside of the area because of a shortage of available accommodation –more than double the national rate of out-of-area placements.

"Currently just £1 out of every £50 spent on services by the council comes from the government.”

‘Like every other local authority in the country’, the council said it is ‘facing tight financial restrictions’.

"It is caused by a reduction in central government funding and increasing pressure outside of its control from inflation and cost of living challenges,” the spokesperson added.

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“These are among the most financially difficult circumstances local government has ever experienced.”

The council’s cabinet is ‘currently considering the potential options’ for next year’s budget. It expects to need to find £2.8m in savings next year – ‘about seven per cent of this year’s budget’.

"As part of this, the council is reviewing its asset portfolio, new tighter controls have been brought in on spending, fees and charges are being reviewed and savings will be made in staffing and resources,” the spokesperson added.

"Alongside this, there will also be a renewed drive to provide better and more efficient services for the community online, allowing residents to get information and assistance more quickly.”