ESCC wants your opinion of its plans to save cash by cutting services

People in East Sussex are being asked to give their views on its county council’s plan for the future of services amid  what the council describes as, “the continuing difficult financial climate”.

East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) ‘core offer’ document was considered by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday. It outlines what ESCC leader Keith Glazier has described as a ‘basic but decent’ level of service that residents should be entitled to expect in the years to come.

Some headline cuts recommended in the document entitled Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources include cuts to training for social workers and doing less preventative work, saving ESCC £854,000. Another £1.3m could be saved by doing less monitoring of school performances and more than £500,000 could be saved by cutting library services with £884,000 cut from the road maintenance budget.

Now the council is asking the people of East Sussex for their views on the core offer and their opinions on the impact the proposals outlined in the document will have on them. They are being asked which services they believe should be a priority in the coming years and what they think is the best way of bridging the financial gap.

The core offer outlines potential reductions in services which would deliver significant savings over the next three years, but would still leave a funding gap of up to £33m. At the same time, the council pledges to work with partners and communities to make the most of the assets and resources in East Sussex and to provide value for money.

Mr Glazier said this week: “The core offer sets out an ambitious but realistic plan to help us continue to deliver quality, value-for-money services where they’re most needed.

“It is not a budget paper and we will go through the usual budget setting process in due course, but it will form the basis of our planning for the years ahead.

“It will also enable us to more clearly articulate to the Government the reasonable level of services we think residents should be entitled to expect and the level of funding we need to deliver them.

“I’d strongly encourage residents to give us their views on whether they agree with our approach and priorities and how they think we should address the continuing financial challenges.”

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While the core offer outlines some reductions to services, the council would continue to provide key services such as highways maintenance, support for older people and vulnerable adults and safeguarding children at risk.

The council has already saved £129m so far this decade and is now calling for a fairer funding settlement from Government which takes into account the make-up of the county, including its high proportion of older people and low business rates income

People have six weeks to view details of the core offer and give their feedback online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/coreoffersurvey

Two Hastings councillors who spoke in Tuesday’s debate were Godfrey Daniel and Tania Charman. Mr Daniel told colleagues: “I did not come in to public service as a councillor to decimate services in our community,” and he warned of, “potholes becoming canyons and special needs children being ignored”.

Ms Charman, said that she was already seeing instances where social workers employed by ESCC were under too much pressure: “How can we retain staff as things get worse? I do not think I would want to be working in that kind of environment,” she said.

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