West Sussex set to freeze county tax bills

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West Sussex County Council will be recommended to freeze its share of council tax bills for 2012/13 at its budget meeting on Friday, February 17.

It will be the second year running that council tax has been pegged if the council supports recommendations approved today (Tuesday) by the County’s Cabinet.

That would mean the average Band D taxpayer continuing to pay £1,161.99 for the 80 per-cent of local government services that are delivered by the county council in West Sussex.

However, residents will have to add to that figure any sum needed by their district or borough council as well as Sussex Police, and precepts charged by individual town and parish councils.

Michael Brown, West Sussex Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “Once again it has been a very difficult budget process, but I am sure that the recommendation to the full Council will be welcomed by our hard pressed residents.”

The budget takes into account the second year of the county council’s savings plan, which involves reducing its spending by £79 million over three years to cope with reduced Government grants.

Michael said: “I do not want to lull residents into a false sense of security that better times are just around the corner. We still face a very uncertain financial outlook, and in 2013 local authorities face a radical change in the way they are financed.

“It will be a very challenging time, and we are currently carrying out an in-depth study into exactly how this might impact on us.”

The budget meeting will also be asked to approve capital spending of £140 million – including £15million of new money to support infrastructure and development projects designed to give the economy of West Sussex a boost.

Michael said: “We are also bringing forward £35 million of planned capital spending so that construction and other contracts can be awarded now when they are desperately needed rather than in three or four years time.

“I will be telling the budget meeting on February 17 that the proposals are designed to ensure the county council continues to live within its means, we borrow sparingly, face up to whatever new austerity measures central Government may demand of us, but also stimulate the local economy and continues to lower the burden of taxation.”