West Sussex council tax rise of nearly 4% approved

West Sussex County Council HQ
Image caption Councillors approved the increase at their meeting at West Sussex County Hall

A council tax rise of nearly 4% has been agreed by West Sussex County Council, which said it was facing a shortfall of £44.2m in its funding.

The authority said it had no choice but to approve the rise - the first increase in six years.

The 3.95% increase will mean an extra £45.90 on the annual bill of an average band D property.

The council said it was faced with an extremely tight budget for 2016-2017.

'Safeguard services'

"It is with a heavy heart but a clear head that we have decided to raise council tax this year," said leader Louise Goldsmith.

"We have challenging times ahead and we have had to make some very difficult decisions.

"I am confident this budget will safeguard critical frontline services and protect the most vulnerable whilst still ensuring the economic prosperity of the county."

The council said its government grant had been cut by over 20% - above the national average and more than it had expected.

But it had been given temporary funding of £6.2m for the coming year and £6.3m for 2017-2018.

The council tax increase includes the 2% extra announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement to help councils pay for social care.

Similar increases have already been agreed by East Sussex, Surrey and Kent county councils.

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