Thurrock Council will begin to transform into a leaner organisation that continues to deliver on residents' key priorities – reflecting the financial challenges that the council faces through the ongoing and longer-term impacts of COVID-19, and from no longer following the previously-agreed investment approach
Cllr Shane Hebb, Cabinet member for finance, said: "The long-term pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic mean that we need to act now to make sure that we deliver services needed in a post-COVID borough and balancing its budget over the next 2 years.
"The council's investment approach had meant that in previous years we were able to secure additional funding to provide services above and beyond that required of us. With that approach winding down this is no longer an option. This means that we have to take action so that we are ready to ensure the delivery of core services and the borough’s most important capital projects does not suffer.
"The money we have raised, and continue to raise, through investments mean we have not faced the financial cliff-edge many councils have. We have reserves that mean we can plan and take the considered approach to delivering a balanced budget that we are putting before Cabinet, while ensuring we have a sufficient safety net going forward.
"These proposals provide stability for both our day to day costs and the one off expenses we face through major building schemes, all with Thurrock's residents and professional communities in mind.
"Although day-to-day spending (revenue) and project (capital) budgets are entirely separate, they are collectively vital to ensure that we deliver the services and infrastructure schemes our residents want and need.
"Cabinet will be asking Overview and Scrutiny for their valued input into service reforms ahead of Cabinet meeting again in September."
Proposals put forward include:
reshaping services to better target outcomes – service reviews will be completed that are fully outcome-focused, ensuring services are reviewed in line with post-COVID realities and that upcoming discussions are about how services are delivered, not just what buildings services inhabit
leaner staff and management operating model – staff salaries are the largest budget operated by Thurrock Council, and savings will be made by transforming services and doing things differently while carefully managing the impacts on the outcomes for residents who experience front-line services
focusing on the most important capital projects for the borough, Grays Underpass and Stanford-le-Hope Interchange – additional funding will be given to these 2 key projects while a review of wider capital expenditure takes place
Stanford-le-Hope Interchange has been significantly redesigned and improved after more land near the station became available. It will now require additional resource and will be delivered in 2 phases – the first will be the delivery of a new train station, and the second will involve wider facilities, including parking to the north of London Road.
If approved the budget proposals will be considered by the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committees and referred back to Cabinet in September.