Rise in council tax would not plug £49m adult social care budget pressures in West Sussex

West Sussex County Council
West Sussex County Council

A two per cent rise in the county council’s precept could generate £31.8m for adult social care services but would still be short of the £49m of additional expected budget pressures over the next four years.

In his Autumn Statement last month Chancellor George Osborne announced that local authorities would be given the flexibility to put their element of council tax by up to two per cent solely for adult social care.

West Sussex County Council is looking to cut £143.8m from its budget over the next four years, but officers told members of the Performance and Finance Select Committee last Thursday (December 3) that ideas that amounted to £77m savings had already been identified.

Although raising council tax for adult social care services could see WSCC take on added burdens, officers estimated it could bring in £31.8m over the Medium Term Financial Strategy period, which is up to 2019/20.

But they explained that due to demographic change, inflation, and the national living wage the county council was looking at an additional £49m of costs.

Mike Glennon, leader of the UKIP group at WSCC, described social care as a ‘huge burden’ and one that ‘will increase greatly in the coming years’.

Althought not arguing for or against a council tax increase, he said: “I believe we need to consider consulting the public again and having a new broader debate over this.”

He did argue against large-scale borrowing, which he said would ‘put the bill on future taxpayers’.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of the council, said that while there were facing demographic pressures in West Sussex, especially in the coastal areas, in the long-term devolution ‘could yield some very very interesting things’.

She added that they were still awaiting detail behind Mr Osborne’s announcements.

The budget for 2016/17 is expected to be agreed in Feburary 2016.

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