Set to increase

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The article in last week’s Observer (‘County council set to freeze tax’) reported West Sussex County Council’s level of usable reserves is set to increase over the coming financial year from £200m to £215m.

In fact, our usable reserves of £215.5m as at March 31, 2013, is scheduled to fall to £177m by March 31, 2014.

This is because a series of projects, for which we have set aside earmarked reserves, have come to fruition and will be paid for from those reserves.

The article also said that ‘government direction is likely to be obeyed’ as the cabinet recommends a freeze to council tax for the coming year.

I would like to emphasise our choice of recommendation to freeze council tax for the third year running is not a response to some government diktat.

We have done this because of our commitment to keep council tax rises to a minimum, recognising that this will help all households in West Sussex as we are all feeling the pinch in the current financial climate.

Taking into account inflation, by freezing council tax since 2011, the government estimates this equates to a nine per cent cut in council tax bills.

Michael Brown

Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources

West Sussex County Council