Council budget proposals
Essex County Council’s (ECC) budget proposals for the coming year will define the path out of the Covid-19 pandemic and will keep the impact on council tax bills to an absolute minimum, the council announced today (Tuesday 12 January 2021).
Papers for January’s Cabinet meeting reveal that the Council will propose a 0% council tax increase, with a 1.5% increase this year from the Government’s Adult Social Care precept, half of that available. This means that for an average Band D property household, the ECC element of Council Tax will increase by £19.80 next year, or 38p per week.
The Council’s post-pandemic plans focus on family, economy and environment.
The Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr David Finch, said: “This budget has been produced under the most testing circumstances that the Council and our communities have ever faced.
“We have had to make some incredibly tough decisions in the short term to reflect the need to protect our communities and economy in the long term.
“Our proposals set us on the road to recovery – Essex’s Path out of the Pandemic toward a brighter future. We have a strategy and an investment plan to improve the lives of our residents and begin to mitigate some of the impacts we have all felt in the last year.
“Over the last twelve months we have worked primarily on addressing the challenges of Covid. We will continue to do that over the next twelve months.
There is no more fundamental responsibility for government than to save lives; and working with our partners and with central government we will do whatever it takes to protect you and your families from this dreadful virus.
“Family, economy, and environment will provide our focus – from increasing the number of apprentices in the county and helping the recently unemployed start their own businesses, to creating an additional 1,500 school places and increasing support for older people so that more than ever can continue to live in their own homes.
“We will improve mental health services and support for people with learning disabilities. We will build on our reputation as one of the best children’s services authorities in the country. We will continue to invest in our infrastructure and environment - prioritising action to address climate change by planting a further 50,000 trees this year to aid carbon capture and investing over £2.5m in flood defences, as well as receiving the first full report of the Essex Climate Commission.”
This year budget proposals also include a spending commitment of £1.34 billion over the next four years on major infrastructure projects, such as new schools and major road improvements, a major scaling up on previous years. The spend in 2021 is set to be £290m - 50% up on the last two years’ capital budget.
Cllr Finch added: “The challenge of Covid has been layered on top of the already existing financial stress that public services have been under for a decade. But because we have focused on reducing bureaucracy and improving productivity - we have been consistently identified as one of the ten most efficient Councils in the country – we have been able to keep Council Tax increases to a minimum while providing excellent services.
“This year is no exception – the Council is proposing a zero Council Tax increase, while taking half of the Government’s precept for adult social care. This means an increase of just 38p per week for an average Band D household.”