“We have done it before and we will do it again.”
A message of hope was shared by Essex County Council’s (ECC) Leader today as he outlined plans for the county’s recovery from the pandemic and unveiled the Council’s Organisation Plan and 2021/22 budget.
Significant investment in the county’s young people, highways, local communities and businesses make up ECC’s plans for the coming year, with Cllr David Finch announcing key initiatives across three priority areas - environment, family and economy. These include:
- An additional £2million investment in economic development to ensure a successful reopening of the Essex economy.
- £1.5million to support a new Educational Recovery Task Force which will lead and oversee the educational recovery of all Essex children.
- A further £1million investment in mental health support for children and our health and care workforce.
- A further £1million community action fund for environmental initiatives to help communities create less waste, travel sustainably, use renewable energy and produce less carbon.
- A further £500,000 to break the cycle of violence and protect young people from gangs.
- A further £7.2million of capital funding for Local Highways Panels (LHP) - £200K more for each panel, each year, for the next three years.
- An additional £180,000 added to LHP revenue budgets for smaller highways projects.
- A further £10,000 for every county councillor to invest in local community initiatives - enabling local members to tackle the local issues that matter most to their communities.
In total, ECC will be investing an additional £33m across its portfolios over the next year, with the majority of this being invested in adult social care services to support some of the county’s most vulnerable individuals and those that care for them.
ECC’s ambitious capital programme, which was announced in the papers for its January Cabinet meeting, also includes a £1.34 billion spend over the next four years on major infrastructure projects, such as new schools and major road improvements. The spend in 2021 is set to be £290m - 50% more than the last two years’ capital budget.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “While this year’s budget has been produced under the most testing circumstances the council and our communities have ever faced, I want people to take away a message of hope today.
“We are committed to building on the work we have done to date – not just through the pandemic, but over the past decade since the last recession – to help Essex to emerge healthier and with a brighter future.
“I am extremely proud that we have been able to set out robust plans today for how we will do this, while at the same time achieving a 0% county council tax increase for residents and just a 1.5% increase from the Government’s Adult Social Care precept.
“As an organisation, we have taken great strides over the last ten years, investing in Essex to benefit the communities and businesses that call the county home. We have a strong record of sound financial management and I am confident we will recover – we have done it before, and we will do it again.”