The ruling Conservatives at County Hall have put forward plans for a radical budget that will see more investment into Essex roads, pavements, caring for vulnerable people, elderly residents, schools, skills and meet increasing costs of the Living Wage and inflation.
The Conservatives are proposing to increase the Council Tax base rate by 2.99% and the Adult Social Care levy by 2%. The latter is a surcharge the Government allows Councils who provide social care to add to Council Tax bills to meet the growing demands of this crucial service.
In reality this means that for a Band D property the cost to people will be £1.12p per week.
Among the highlights of this Budget are:
1. The Conservatives have ensured that from April there will be a record capital investment of £300m going in to building new schools, expanding existing ones, building 9 thousand new homes, extending broadband new highways works.
2. The freezes in CT that were delivered have saved Essex taxpayers £161m compared to if Council Tax had been increased by the maximum 2% each year.
3. 11,370 apprenticeship schemes have been delivered with more to come.
4. Last year the Conservatives ensured that roads were resurfaced to the equivalent of four times round the M25.
Cllr. David Finch, Leader of the Council, said: “This is the first time that we as Conservatives have raised base rate council tax for five years and this is a record to be proud of, however, with increasing costs and inflation we are no longer able to hold a permanent freeze and like any other business we are having to increase our bills to meet these demands on critical services that will bring benefits to every resident in Essex.”
Cllr. Louise McKinley, Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “Every single penny that will be raised as a result of increasing the Council Tax this year will be spent directly on services that every resident depends on and we must ensure that we safeguard these vital services for the present and the future. This will mean an extra £3m directly invested into our roads to help repair them after the recent bad weather and also improve pavements in towns and villages across Essex. We shall also be helping an increasing number of Essex people that need help and care as well meeting the costs of inflation.”
The proposed rise comes after five years of frozen Council Tax bills from Tory led ECC and after a period when the Conservatives have slashed unnecessary costs at County Hall to the tune of over £600m.
Cllr. David Finch, continued: “Our financial record is strong and I am pleased to say that the Conservative Group at County Hall backs these plans. The Budget is a sensible one that protects the vital services people deserve while at the same limiting it to a modest rise as we are conscious that people have to balance their own household budgets.”