Worthing council leader pledges to maintain frontline services despite government funding cuts

Released: Friday, 24 November 2023

Worthing Borough Council will maintain its frontline services for the community despite continued cuts from the government, leader Cllr Dr Beccy Cooper has pledged.

Like every other local authority in the country, the council is facing tight financial restrictions caused by a reduction in central government funding and increasing pressure outside its control from inflation and cost of living challenges. These are among the most financially difficult circumstances local government has ever experienced.

The rising number of residents needing to be housed because they would otherwise be homeless is a particular spike in pressure. More than 300 Worthing locals are currently having to be housed outside the area because of a shortage of available accommodation - more than double the national rate of out-of-area placements.

The government's decision to raise housing benefit for eligible residents will have a positive impact for those people most in need, but this will not have an immediate effect.

Cllr Dr Beccy Cooper, the leader of Worthing Borough Council, said:

“Like every local authority across the country, we are feeling the full impact of the government's failure to provide the funding our community needs. I have joined other council leaders in writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to call for an appropriate level of extra financial support that we urgently need to deal with our housing pressures in particular.

“The continued cutbacks in government funding, combined with the effects of inflation and cost of living pressures, mean we will have to make some very difficult decisions to balance the books next year.

“It is absolutely appalling that the government is refusing to provide anywhere near enough funding to support even the most vulnerable.

“But as a council for the community we will work with and for our citizens to ensure that we continue to provide our vital frontline services, so that no one will be left behind.”

The council is focusing on funding the most vital frontline services for the community, influenced by what residents said should be their priorities in this month's budget surveys.

Legally the council has to produce a balanced budget each year, meaning it can only plan to spend as much as it takes in through its share of council tax, government grants, fees and charges.

In 2023/24, just £259.92 of the council tax paid on the average Band D home in Worthing will go to the borough council - the equivalent of £5 per week - to fund services including waste and recycling collection, support for the most vulnerable and the maintenance of parks, open spaces and the seafront.

The council continues to push for more government support and is applying to different departments for additional funding for specific projects. Currently just £1 out of every £50 spent on services by the council comes from the government.

The council's cabinet is currently considering the potential options for its next year's budget. It expects to need to find £2.816m in savings next year - about 7% of this year's budget.

As part of this, the council is reviewing its asset portfolio, new tighter controls have been brought in on spending, fees and charges are being reviewed and savings will be made in staffing and resources.

Alongside this, there will also be a renewed drive to provide better and more efficient services for the community online, allowing residents to get information and assistance more quickly.

press release - no photo image - WBC - grey

(PR23-166)

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Page last updated: 21 February 2024

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