Council Leader: local government financial model ‘no longer sustainable’

Cabinet councillors at Eastbourne Borough Council have agreed a budget that will limit the council tax increase to 15p a week (based on a typical band D property) and prioritise help for the most vulnerable residents to get through the cost of living crisis.

The Leader of the Council also called on the government to urgently reverse the cuts to funding for local authorities, that in Eastbourne has seen the £10 million grant previously received for public services reduced to zero.

The comments followed a meeting of the council’s Cabinet committee today (February 8) that met to agree budget proposals for 2023 / 2024.

Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, believes the financial model for local government is no longer sustainable. He said: “In over 40 years as a councillor, I have never been more concerned about the future of our public services as I am now. Up and down the UK there are councils staring bankruptcy in the face.  Although that is not the case here in Eastbourne, setting a budget which continues to provide the services that our community needs and expects has never been more difficult.

“The central issue is government under-funding of local authorities and council leaders of all political backgrounds are saying the same thing, it is no longer sustainable. 

“In Eastbourne we put the focus on frontline services and support for the most vulnerable, to help them through this horrendous cost of living crisis, but the determination to do this is being tested like never before.”

The 15p a week increase in Eastbourne will result in a Band D bill of £269.68, which is the lowest Band D in East Sussex. The annual increase proposed by East Sussex County Council is 4.99%, which equates to an increase of £80.46 for a Band D bill.

East Sussex County Council receive 73% of the council tax bill, with the remainder being split between Eastbourne Borough Council (12%), Sussex Police (10%) and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (5%).

Councillor Tutt added: “Since 2007, East Sussex County Council has raised the council tax by 54% and over the same period, this council has had to increase it by 28%, so I know how difficult it is for many local people to pay their bills.

“Our officers will also do everything they can to help residents facing hardship and dealing with council tax arrears.

“It is also important that those who can pay, do pay their fair share and so we have introduced a council tax premium on second homes and homes that have been empty for at least a year.”

Full Council will consider the budget proposals on February 22nd.

Published on February 9, 2023.