County Budget boss explains thinking behind £79m savings
Some of the ways in which West Sussex County Council plans to save £79m over the next three years are explained in a new video, by the man in charge of the purse strings.
Michael Brown, a former chairman of London Total Gas and Thames Power, is Member for Finance and Resources. He is described as currently having “perhaps the most unenviable post” in the West Sussex County Council Cabinet.
“This is a zero sum game. If you preserve expenditure in one place, you have to find a corresponding cut somewhere else,” says Michael. “Every cut underlines the difficult choices we have to make. The Government has to borrow one pound in every four, and this cannot go on.”
However it is far from being all bad news, he says in the latest Digital Democracy interview. He pledges that vulnerable people, schools, education and highways are high priorities for the County Council. Adults’ Services was taking the largest of the cuts only because it was the largest area of expenditure.
Three key points emerge during his interview:
• The County Council’s recently approved Budget was tough but realistic, preserving services to the most vulnerable in West Sussex.
• Borrowing has been cut back sharply.
• Council tax has been frozen, with a commitment to keep the next increase equal to – or below – inflation.
He admits to some anxiety during the process. “No elected Member would want to preside over cuts of this scale,” he tells interviewer Chris Rider. “However we have little alternative.”
You can see the full interview at www.westsussex.gov.uk and click on Digital Democracy.