COUNCIL taxpayers face a hike in their bills for the first time in four years and up to 150 jobs will be axed as East Sussex County Council (ESCC) faces mammoth cuts in its budget.
Members of the authority’s cabinet met on Tuesday (January 28) to discuss how County Hall could make £27.7 million in savings over the next financial year, which starts on April 1.
Proposals put forward include axing 100 to 150 jobs and imposing a 1.95 per cent increase in ESCC’s share of the council tax.
The increase would add an extra 43p a week to council tax bills for band D properties.
ESCC faces £110 million in budget cuts between now and 2020.
Up to 60 jobs have already been lost with the upcoming closure of the Pinehill Centre and Mount Denys care home, on The Ridge, in April as the county council looks to make savings of more than £27 million from its adult social care budget over the next three years.
The council currently has around 15,000 employees, including those working in schools.
The budget will go before the full council for approval on Tuesday (February 11).
Amanda Parks, chairman of the East Sussex area branch of Unison, said: “We are very concerned over the job losses. We cannot keep on being squeezed and wrung out because there is nothing left.
“The county council should go back to the Government and tell it to leave public services alone.”
Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of ESCC, said: “We do have a redeployment policy so can reuse people’s skills where we can but ultimately with these kinds of numbers, it’s possible that there will be redundancies. We have a very good track record of retraining and reusing our staff and value them enormously.”
He said the proposed budget includes more than £57 million of new investment in roads, over the next three years, including £10 million for improving unclassified routes and £2.25 million for fixing potholes.
Cllr Glazier added: “This is a budget for the future. It will allow us to better protect front-line services and to take control of our own destiny, in the interests of the people we represent.
“We’ve been through the most difficult financial period any of us can remember and more tough times lie ahead, so we have to cut our cloth accordingly.
“Until now, we’ve managed to protect essential services while freezing council tax, but it’s vital we have long-term control over our finances so we can plan ahead and avoid unnecessary cuts in the years to come.”