Bleak news from council leader as he predicts “Tough times ahead”
Date posted: 18-10-2012
THURROCK Council is facing having to save nearly £20 million in the next four years – around £3½ million in 2013-14 and over £17 million in the three following years.
The news was given by Council Leader Cllr John Kent at a meeting of the council on Wednesday (17 October) evening.
And he said the council would be carrying out a consultation – similar to the Let’s Talk scheme two years ago – to try and find ways to make the savings without targeting front-line services.
Cllr Kent said officers had put forward a series of proposals, which were in the cabinet report, but “just because they are here doesn’t mean it will happen, and because something isn’t here doesn’t mean it won’t”.
He said that on top of reductions in funding from central government, the council was facing serious “pressure from adult and children’s social care, things we have a legal and moral duty to fund as well as possible”.
He said: “One question we have to ask is whether or not to increase council tax this year. In the previous two years there has been a, so called, council tax freeze grant, but that is building up a problem for future years. At some point the grant will end and there will be a hole in the finances.
“This year the government is offering a freeze grant of one per cent, or around £½ million in our case. Last year that grant was worth £1.5million so in effect that is a further £1 million cut to our budget, so maybe we should consider a 2 per cent or £1 million increase – at least that million would come in every year.
“We’ve not decided, but we are thinking about it as a way to help reduce the gap. Thurrock has the lowest council tax in Essex and I reckon that would still be the case with a two per cent rise.”
Cllr Kent said the council was having to take on extra responsibilities – in areas such as flooding, health and youth justice – but was unsure if they would be fully funded.
He said two years ago with Let’s Talk “we were able to implement many of the savings ideas either directly or with the odd tweak here and there. We’ll be announcing Let’s Talk II – or whatever it’s called – in the next couple of weeks. “e will need ideas for next year and the three years after that. We’re already working on it, why not give us your ideas too.”