Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

No council tax rise in West Sussex next year is on the cards

West Sussex County Council looks set to be asked to approve a budget for 2012/13 that will mean no increase in council tax for the second year running.

A full meeting of the Council was told today (Friday) by Michael Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, that he was ‘minded to propose no increase in the County Council’s element of council tax next year’.

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.

However, if finally approved at the budget meeting in February 2012, 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 said today that his statement followed confirmation from the Government that it will give West Sussex a one-off payment of around £9.6 million – equivalent to a 2.5 per-cent tax rise.

“I think this will be welcome news for hard pressed families across our county, and, at this stage, I cannot see any reason why we should be blown off course,” he said outside the meeting.

The final pieces of a complicated jigsaw that will determine next year’s budget are starting to fall into place.

The Government’s provisional finance settlement for local authorities, announced on December 8, has been described by Michael ‘as another very tough one for the County Council.’

He said: “In 2012/13 we will receive £10.8 million less than in the current year – a cut of 8.4 per cent in our core formula grant.

“But, this is exactly what we expected as a result of the Government’s austerity package and we have planned for it, although we will as usual be making representations that it is unfair compared with other local authorities.”

Michael also spoke today about the £50 million infrastructure package that has been proposed designed to support the economy of West Sussex – consisting of £15 million worth of new projects with a further £35 million worth of schemes in the capital programme that will start earlier than originally planned.

He said: “The Government is proposing to change the current funding system in April 2013 for one that will allow local authorities to retain a proportion of the local business rates, and to benefit to some extent from growth.

“That means the more we do to support our economy and businesses the better because what we get in future to run day-to-day services such as adult social care, children’s services, and highways, is going to depend on local economic prosperity.

“The Government has said the proposals will deliver direct financial incentives for authorities that promote economic growth, and help many councils break free from a dependency on grants from central government.

“I hope that clearly demonstrates the wisdom behind our economic growth package because everything it contains, from major spending on Broadband to improving shopping centres, is designed to boost business and create jobs.”

Full details of the infrastructure package can be found in Press Release number 4685 available from the newsroom section of www.westsussex.gov.uk