Briefing office

West Sussex: Austerity in a Tory Heartland

Briefing office

WEST SUSSEX HAS two tiers of local government. The first tier, West Sussex County Council (WSCC), has either already implemented or threatened the cuts outlined below. These reflect drastically reduced central government funding, especially in the case of schools where WSCC essentially passes on central government funding. WSCC has, however, made numerous choices which have worsened its own financial position.

  • Closed youth centres and made over 100 youth workers redundant.

  • Raised the eligibility criteria for receipt of social care from ‘moderate’ to ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’.

  • Increased the cost of meals at day centres by 23.5%.

  • Chose over successive years to freeze council tax, eroding its own tax base for the future and passing the burden of payment on to service users less likely to afford it.

  • Is proposing to cut £6m of housing support and homelessness grants.

  • 46 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching posts and 84 FTE school support staff posts were earmarked for redundancy in the summer term of 2018.

  • Spent £4.6m on reorganisation with consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers since financial year 2016-17.

  • The Chief Executive has pocketed £47,500 in 2016-17 in removal and resettlement payments while ‘earning’ a basic salary of £190,000 per annum.

  • £2.5m was cut from the Fire & Rescue Service in 2012, followed by a further £1.6 million cut in 2014. According to Fire Brigade Union figures the council has axed 37% of firefighters’ jobs, making it the second worst hit fire authority in proportional terms for firefighters lost in the whole of the UK.

  • £200,000 more cuts are proposed to come from prevention work within the Fire & Rescue Service.

  • £200,000 cuts are proposed to come from the Resilience & Emergencies Team, the civil contingencies team which deals with disasters and emergencies such as the Shoreham air crash.

  • £500,000 cuts are threatened to prevention work done with children and families at risk of needing higher cost social care interventions.