Leaders from East Sussex have taken the case for fair funding right to the heart of Government.
Councillor Keith Glazier and Councillor David Elkin, leader and deputy leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC), met Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury on Thursday to explain the pressures the county and its people are under.
They told her that long-term, sustainable funding for East Sussex is needed to preserve the quality public services on which so many residents rely.
ESCC has already made savings of £129 million this decade and is preparing to save up to a further £46 million over the next three years to meet the funding gap left by rising demand for services and dwindling grant from central government.
Leaders of all political parties at ESCC have combined to stress the urgency of government action to meet the needs of the people, families and businesses of East Sussex. They have pointed out the county’s large and growing elderly population, limited transport and business infrastructure and rising demand for special educational need and child protection as particular pressures in East Sussex.
The Treasury response was positive, said MR Glazier: “Our case has clearly been heard. Ms Truss and her officials understand the particular pressures on East Sussex and agree with us that councils need sustainable funding, we heard a commitment to finding a fair and stable financial formula which will help East Sussex, and counties like ours, meet the real needs of our residents.
“No one pretends this is easy, we know resources are stretched and it’s right that we’ve played our part in reducing national expenditure. But thousands of people in East Sussex, many of them vulnerable, rely on the essential services we provide – from care and education to transport and support for businesses.
“We left the meeting confident that the government understands the good work we do and the level of support we need to keep it going for the people of East Sussex.”
The government is conducting a fair funding review of local government and preparing a proposal for how to fund social care in future. In 2019 it will publish a spending review to decide the shape of national allocation for the next three years.
ESCC, like all local authorities, will shortly hear of its annual financial settlement from the government before setting its budget for 2019/20. The council has proposed a core offer for East Sussex which it thinks represent a minimum level of services that people in the county should be entitled to expect.