East Sussex County Council announces core offer of services including staff redundancies risk

The financially-struggling East Sussex County Council has announced its ‘core offer’ of services today, including the possibility of staff redundancies as the authority looks to balance the books.

The council document, signed by chief executive Becky Shaw, which will be discussed by the Cabinet next week, outlined its ambitions to provide services which meet residents’ needs, however the council noted that it will “not be sustainable for long” unless the cash-strapped authority receives a cash injection from the government.

The report lists the £12.3m of savings that could be made by adopting the core offer through to 2022, but says further savings of up to £33.4m could still be required in a ‘worst-case scenario.’

East Sussex CC has already made £129m in savings since 2010, partly due to rising costs and surging demand for adult social care from an increasing population. The worst-case scenario outlook puts East Sussex at a funding gap of up to £46m by 2022.

Services that will be cut include communities, economy and transport, which will be slashed by almost £4.73m; children’s services will feel the cuts also, with £3.65m identified in savings; business services/Orbis (a partnership with Surrey County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council) will be cut by almost £3m; and adult social care will be cut by just under £1m.

Job cuts could also be on the way, the council statement wrote: “Moving to a core offer and the need to make savings may lead to a reduction in staffing. These are yet to be identified and quantified. The county council has established robust employment protection policies and will continue to try and avoid making compulsory redundancies, wherever possible.”

The financial document noted that despite chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget announcement allocating funding to children’s services and adult social care, the direct effect on East Sussex’s financial position will not be certain until the council has received the provisional local government settlement which is expected on 6 December.

It explained: “The additional funding, whilst helpful, is one off. It will not, therefore, change our savings requirement, unless the government gives a commitment to replicate the funding for remainder of the MTFP period. Neither is it sufficient to close the budget gap.”

East Sussex added that the effects of Brexit on the economy of the country and the duties the government expects local councils to carry out are “unclear.”

“It will be an additional factor that we need to take into account as the details of any deal and the practical realities begin to emerge,” the document wrote.

Cllr Keith Glazier, county council leader, said: “We’d all like to provide more than a core service because none of us came into politics to make cuts, but this proposal is presented as a realistic ambition in a time of austerity.

“This will also define our discussion with residents, partners and the government about the role the county council can play in future and what others can do to help us meet the needs of people and businesses here in East Sussex.”

Full details of the core offer proposals to be discussed by cabinet on Tuesday 13 November. Subject to cabinet agreement, a public engagement on the core offer would then take place.

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