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Another county chief warns of dire financial situation

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East Sussex CC’s chief executive has warned the council will be left with “a minimum service offer” by 2020-21 without further resources from the government.

In a report on the council’s budget proposals, chief executive Becky Shaw said East Sussex is required to make savings of £17m, with a projected deficit of £30m by 2020-21.

She said by 2020-21, the council will continue to meet “critical and substantial need” in adult social care, deal with high risk cases in children’s services, use its influence to assist with economic development, and ensure the safety of roads.

But Ms Shaw added: “If there are no new resources from government, by 2021-22 the council will be left with a minimum service offer.

“Central services will be reduced to a democratic core with minimum support for departments and more self-service.

“We will not be able to fund early intervention or prevention services in adult and children’s social care or support to schools to improve attainment.

“We will have to move away from assets management in highways towards more reactive maintenance, leading to long-term deterioration of condition.”

The news comes at a time when Northamptonshire CC has issued a section 114 notice.

Ms Shaw’s report, published on 23 January and recommended for approval by full council on 6 February, said uncertainty over future funding mechanisms from 2020-21, including the implementation of the outcome of the fair funding review and the government’s intention to move to 75% business rates retention, means the council’s medium term financial plan is “necessarily iterative”, with the consequences for East Sussex “unknown”.

East Sussex is proposing to increase council tax by 5.99% this year, the biggest rise permitted without a referendum.

The budget report says the council’s estimated reserves will decrease from £88.6m in April this year to £44.2m by 2021.

It adds the £10m general fund balance held by the East Sussex, which is assessed annually in relation to risks facing the council, is £10m lower proportionately than most other councils.

The budget proposals include a reduction in full-time jobs of 200.


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