West Sussex County Council's surplus disappears into the red

County Hall
Image caption West Sussex County Council said government funding will not be put in place until after the election

A county council has admitted it will have a shortfall of £2.2m in 2020-21 despite forecasting two months ago it would be in the black by £13m.

West Sussex County Council's cabinet was told the authority's position had "changed quite dramatically".

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative-run council's member for finance, said government funding for next year was not in place because of the election.

He described the authority's fiscal plans as "a little bit in the air".

Mr Hunt told the cabinet the pressures on services, particularly children's and fire and rescue services, "continues to grow", the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"We're currently in the last year of a four-year government settlement and by now we'd expected to have a new multi-year settlement in place.

"However, due to other priorities at Westminster, this has not materialised. Instead, the government announced in September a one-year spending round for 2019 only."

'Real challenge'

Mr Hunt said: "Since then the election has been called, which means that there has been no budget and, more importantly, there will be no final confirmation of the provisional settlement - normally in early December - but it won't be now until a new government is in place."

He said next year's plans were "a little bit in the air" until the council knew what sort of government would be in power - and whether that government would honour the 2019 spending agreement.

He added: "Beyond next year particularly is a real challenge."

Last month, the council's chief executive, Nathan Elvery, was the second senior figure to leave the authority after a leaked report suggested the council should lose control of its children's services.

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