Worthing to become sustainable council through closer community ties

Sustainability

Rebalancing services and increasing community involvement will help make Worthing Borough Council more sustainable for the future.

The council’s draft revenue budget for 2024/25 details how changing how the council works will help it meet the challenge of delivering services with the limited resources available.

The council is facing tight financial restrictions caused by inadequate central government funding and increasing pressure outside of its control from inflation and cost of living challenges, like every other local authority in the country.

It is continuing to prioritise its spending through new tighter controls on expenditure, making savings in staffing and resources, and postponing or cancelling some less vital work in favour of funding frontline services for the community.

A report to be considered by Worthing’s cabinet on 6 February explains that by changing the way services are provided, a 2.99% rise in the amount of council tax payable to the borough council would be enough to balance its books next year.

The average Band D council charge payable to the council has increased by less than £44 over the last 10 years, to £259.92 for the current financial year. A 2.99% rise next year would add £7.74 a year to the bill – the equivalent of less than 15p per week.

Rising costs and reduced income during the last 12 months have meant that even while making savings, the council expects to use more than £1.5m of its reserves this financial year to fund its work.

Its service redesign will enable closer working between council teams, partners and the community. This will support it to achieve its council for the community priorities of creating more social housing, driving regeneration of the seafront and town centre, and making Worthing a clean, green and fair borough.

It will also allow more than £1.3m to be saved next year, including reducing the use of consultants, agency staff and contractors, not filling the majority of staff vacancies, making greater use of digital technology to improve its processes, and cutting print and postage expenditure, as well as continuing to generate income. The organisation has a strong track record in delivering savings in these areas, in particular on the use of digital and contracts.

The increasing pressure on the council’s housing service from more residents needing to be found somewhere to live means the budget for the housing needs team would increase.

Developer contributions will be used to improve the town centre and local high streets, starting with Montague Place. Innovative development ideas will be welcomed for the reimagining of the Grafton site. The council will also undertake survey work on the lido to see what needs to be done to preserve and reinvigorate this iconic part of Worthing.

The budget proposes increases in some fees and charges, including beach hut rents, parking and concession charges and the collection of bulky waste and commercial waste. To encourage more residents to use the service rather than driving to the tip, there would be no increase in green waste collection charges.

Funds will also be set aside to rebuild the council’s reserves.

The draft revenue budget will be considered by Worthing’s cabinet from 6.30pm on Tuesday 6th February at Worthing FC in Woodside Road. To read the report visit https://democracy.adur-worthing.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=167&MId=1949.

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