East Sussex CC is to vote on whether to scale back services to a “core offer” focused on people in “most urgent need” due to rising budget pressures.
Citing “significant reductions” in government funding, coupled with “soaring” demand for social care services due to an increasing population of older people, chief executive Becky Shaw said the council could not meet its financial challenges over the next three years through locally sourced income, such as council tax and business rates.
Council leader Keith Glazier (Con) has written to housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire ahead of a meeting of the council’s cabinet next Tuesday to warn of “counterproductive choices” that have been “forced” on East Sussex.
In her report to cabinet, Ms Shaw said savings to date have already had “significant impacts” on social care, family centres, youth services, libraries, highways and the public realm.
“The scale of the savings the council has needed to make to date and the continued pressure on budgets in the future mean that, despite continuing commitment to maximise efficiency and generate income, it will have to concentrate services on those in most urgent need and will not be able to maintain a comprehensive offer of universal services to all residents,” Ms Shaw said.
The core offer is described as not just meeting statutory duties, but also “an element of early intervention… to prevent an escalation of urgent need and more expensive interventions”, as well as work to support the economy.
The council’s updated mid-term financial plan MTFP sets out a “worst case scenario” deficit budget position by 2021-22 of £46.4m.
Ms Shaw said: “We need to be realistic about what further budget cuts will mean for the residents, communities and businesses of East Sussex.
“Our core offer paints an honest picture of the minimum that we realistically need to provide in the future and we want to use this as the basis for discussion with the government, partner organisations and residents in East Sussex.”
Ms Shaw warned in February that without new funding, the council would be left with a “minimum service offer” by 2021-22.