Decision details

Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR): Draft Council Plan 2024/25, Revenue Budget and Capital Programme

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Draft Council Plan, revenue budget and savings proposals 24/25 & new Capital programme with EqIAs, Financial monitoring update, Engagement and Scrutiny feedback.



37.1     The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive together with a summary of the consultation meeting held with Trade Unions which was received after publication of the Cabinet agenda.

37.2     It was RESOLVED to recommend the County Council to:

1)              Approve in principle the draft Council Plan 2024/25 at Appendix 1 and authorise the Chief Executive to finalise the Plan in consultation with the relevant Lead Members;

2)    Increase Council Tax by 2.99% in 2024/25;

3)    Increase the Adult Social Care Precept by 2% in 2024/25;

4)              Issue precepts to be paid by borough and district councils in accordance with the agreed schedule of instalments at Appendix 5 (Draft);

5)              Approve the net Revenue Budget estimate of £538.1m for 2024/25 set out in Appendix 2 (Medium Term Financial Plan) and Appendix 3 (Draft) (Budget Summary) and authorise the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer, Leader and Deputy Leader, to make adjustments to the presentation of the Budget Summary to reflect the final settlement and final budget decisions;

6)    Agree the Reserves Policy set out in Appendix 6;

7)    Approve the Capital Strategy and Programme at Appendix 8;

8)             Note progress with the Council Plan and Budget 2023/24 since quarter 2 set out in section 4;

9)              Note the Medium Term Financial Plan forecast for 2024/25 to 2026/27, set out in Appendix 2;

10)           Note the comments of the Chief Finance Officer on budget risks and robustness, as set out in Appendix 6;

11)           Note the comments from engagement exercises set out in Appendix 7;

12)           Note the schedule of fees and charges that have increased above 4% at Appendix 9; and

13)           Agree to continue lobbying as strongly as possible for sustainable funding to meet the needs of East Sussex residents, using all available avenues.


37.3     This Council has a firm foundation of sound and prudent financial management over many years, endorsed by external assessments. We have taken difficult decisions when we needed to in order to balance the books and make best use of stretched resources. Our robust RPPR process has enabled us to direct spending towards priorities and core services, in particular protecting services for the most vulnerable in our county.


37.4     The past year has seen a rapid escalation in costs and demand for services, due to factors beyond local control, which has not been matched with increased funding. Despite the action we have taken locally to address pressures wherever we can, the scale of these challenges leaves us facing a very significant deficit and substantial risk in the coming years. There also remains considerable uncertainty about the future funding regime for local government, particularly when overdue reform which will provide sustainable long-term financing for the sector will be delivered.


37.5     There is continued national reliance on raising funding for core pressures, particularly growing demand in social care, through local Council Tax which is unrelated to need and unsustainable.In this context we must again ask local people to contribute more to protect services for the most vulnerable for the future.This recommendation is not made lightly, given the ongoing pressures on household budgets, but it is essential if we are to protect services as far as possible.Support will continue to be available through local Council Tax Support Schemes for those residents eligible and we will continue to work with partners to signpost residents to sources of support with the cost of living, including access to benefits they may be entitled to.


37.6     Even after this contribution, the budget presented for the year ahead relies on using our reserves to balance the books, significantly depleting this safety net for the future. This is an unsustainable position. The reality is that there are not sufficient reserves available to meet the deferred deficit and we will need to consider what action it is possible to take in the coming year to address the significant financial gap between the funding we currently expect to have and the cost of providing our services in 2025/26 and beyond. Our ability to do so without a detrimental impact on the quality of life of our residents, communities and business is very limited.


37.7     In this context, and with future national policy being shaped ahead of a general election, our lobbying will also be vitally important and we will consider how this can be further intensified and broadened. We will need to ensure the hard choices we now face and the impacts these will have on local residents, business and communities are heard loud and clear. We will continue to work with our local, regional and national partners to highlight the specific needs of East Sussex. We will press for immediate short-term support and longer-term fair, sustainable and needs-based funding that enables us to continue to meet the needs of our residents. Until this is delivered our medium term financial position will remain extremely difficult and present significant risk to our ability to meet local needs in the future.


Publication date: 23/01/2024

Date of decision: 23/01/2024

Decided at meeting: 23/01/2024 - Cabinet

Effective from: 30/01/2024

Accompanying Documents: