Monday, September 26, 2022

Thurrock Council close to £4 million short in balancing budget

THURROCK Council is nearly £4million short of balancing its budget this year, a report has revealed.

The council previously laid out plans to plug a huge £34.3million budget gap over the next two years.

This included losing 25 per cent of staff and selling off assets like the Thameside Theatre as well as property and land across the borough.

The council has also introduced a raft of further savings to be agreed by cabinet in December.

These include twice weekly refuse collections and savings on street cleaning and park maintenance. A plan to charge for garden waste collections has been dropped.

The council will also consider pay and display parking in the borough’s country parks and some green spaces.

Despite the extra measures the council is still struggling and is not expecting things to ease in the coming months.

A report to the corporate overview and scrutiny committee by Sean Clark, corporate director of resources and place delivery, said: “This report sets out the latest position to the committee and highlights there is a remaining gap of £3.9m, which is also subject to the delivery of significant staff savings.

“The financial challenge faced by the council will be further challenged by the longer term impacts of Covid-19, which includes significant demand increases in children’s and adults’ social care; an issue growing across the entire local government sector.”

The council has said “every effort” will be made to reduce any impact on services and residents through transformational changes but adds there will “undoubtedly, be impacts on services”.

Officers say the council operates from a low financial base in terms of funding and had the third lowest band D council tax compared with other unitary councils. The average band D council tax in Essex in 2020/21 was £1,503 compared with the Thurrock’s £1,332.

Revenue from Council Tax in 2020/21 was £69.2m compared Southend’s £84.8m.

The report on the council’s medium term financial strategy confirms an expected annual council tax increase of 1.99 per cent along with a further 1 per cent specifically for social care.

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