Essex 2019/20 Budget Proposals Revealed
15 January 2019, 12:40
Essex County Council has published it's budget proposals for the year ahead.
They say their ambition to be the leading Council in innovation and efficiency, is at the heart of the plans.
Published this week, the Council's draft Organisation Plan and budget for 2019/20 outlines plans for investment in services and infrastructure the County, with capital investment of just under £250M for homes, schools and roads in the coming year, alongside revenue spending plans which include:
- Funding for 1,066 new primary school places, and 2,198 new secondary school places – the equivalent of five new schools - including those for pupils with special educational needs and disability
- £117M for maintaining and improving the road network
- £14M for faster broadband connections
- New contracts with residential care providers which increase their income
- 40 new homes including eight for people with learning disabilities through Essex Housing.
With the Council’s revenue support grant from central government reducing fast and set to be phased out entirely from next year, plus the impact of inflation, population growth and increasing demand for and expectation of services, the council says the financial picture remains challenging, and therefore it has necessitated a proposed total council tax increase of 3.99%.
Of this, 1% would be ring-fenced to adult social care from the Government’s social care precept allowance, with the remaining 2.99% supporting the delivery of other vital local services. The council tax annual bill for a band ‘D’ property in Essex for County Council services would be £1,270.44, a weekly increase of £0.94.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “Essex prides itself on being innovative, dynamic and entrepreneurial. We are go getting – we have one of the highest business start-up rates in the country. People expect the same from their council.
“If we don’t find ways of doing things differently, if we don’t innovate, we won’t succeed. The challenges of ever-increasing costs and demand are real. Austerity might be over, but its effects are still with us.
“This budget is about making the right decisions, in the right way, so we are investing now for Essex’s future prosperity. We have a track record of rolling up our sleeves and getting things done. We’ve saved over £1million a week, every week, over the past four years. Our track record speaks for itself, as does our willingness to innovate, be enterprising, entrepreneurial and embrace internet-age opportunities.”
The Council’s Cabinet will meet to approve the proposals next week, before they go to Full Council for final approval next month.