A cross-party committee of councillors is recommending Thurrock Council raises its council tax by 3.99 per cent when it meets later this month.
Tuesday (2 February) evening’s meeting of the Corporate Overview And Scrutiny Committee had been tasked with looking at the issues surrounding council tax and the council’s budget.
Director of Finance and IT, Sean Clark, told the committee one of the traditional council funding streams – the Revenue Support Grant – was being phased-out “in this Parliament” and that the council was expected to become “self-sufficient” by 2020.
He added that if was still unclear about how much business rates Thurrock would be allowed to keep, but there was little doubt the council would have to make significant savings from 2017/18 onwards.
And, if the council is to balance the budget for 2016/17 without having to make further reductions to services, council tax increases are required.
He said that out of 55 unitary councils, Thurrock already has the third lowest council tax Band D and out of the lowest ten, Thurrock is only able to raise the third lowest amount of Council Tax; receives the third lowest level of Revenue Support Grant; has the third lowest net budget; and has the fifth lowest net budget per head of population.
Mr Clark also said the two per cent Adult Social Care part of the rise would bring in about Â£1.1 million while the change in law increasing the minimum wage is estimated to impact Adult Social Care contract provision by Â£1Â½ million alone.
Committee chair, Cllr Shane Hebb, said after the meeting: “We had a very interesting discussion and it was obvious most members were in support of the 3.99 per cent increase.
“Personally I favoured a 3Â¾ per cent rise, as I believe we have more to do at the council before the council defaults to calling for tax increases.
“The 3.99 per cent represents a 77p increase a week, or less, on council tax for 70 per cent of households. Like interest rates set by the Bank of England – council tax cannot stay indefinitely frozen, and a small step up this year will ensure services are maintained for the year.”
The committee’s recommendation will go before cabinet on Wednesday, 10 February which will make a recommendation to the full council which meets on 24 February.