Residents in West Sussex will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets after a council tax rise was announced by county councillors yesterday (February, 17).

A council tax rise of 3.95% was approved at the setting of the authority’s budget yesterday, meaning residents in the average Band D property will pay 92 pence more per week.

Jeremy Hunt, the County Council’s cabinet member for finance, said the rise was necessary in the face of a reduction in government funding:

“Increases in council tax are now built into the government’s expectation of how services are funded so as well as our continuing drive for efficiencies, savings, and new ways of working, we had little choice but to increase council tax in order to protect frontline services.

“But we have kept the increase as low as possible for our residents and I believe this budget provides excellent value for money.”

The tax rise is formed of a 1.95% local increase coupled with a 2% levy enforced across the country to raise money for adult social care.

It forms a part of measures to close a budget gap of £41.6 million.

£16.8 million will come from savings across a number of services, while the council has also had to use £9.4m of its reserve funds.

The budget has been drawn up in line with the priorities of ‘keeping you safe’, ‘providing education and schools’ and ‘roads, buses and countryside’.

All three areas were highlighted by residents last year in the County Council’s What Matters to You survey.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith said the authority had listened to residents’ concerns in deciding which matters to prioritise in the year ahead:

“I’m pleased to say that because of our sound financial management we have not only been able to balance our budget and protect our services but we have also put forward plans for significant investment across West Sussex.

Areas include adult social care, highways and transport, education, our fire and rescue service, and numerous schemes which will boost our local economy.”