Clear focus on resident needs in council reforms

8 July 2021

Thurrock Council will ensure it delivers on residents' key needs as it becomes a smaller and leaner council in light of the need to reform after COVID-19.

Cllr Shane Hebb presented the Council's financial statement and strategy to Cabinet this evening (Wednesday 7 July). The strategy proposes savings to help the council close its £34.3million budget gap while ensuring that impacts on residents are carefully managed.

Cllr Hebb said: "We need to build a renewed council that is results-focused, outcomes-orientated, and prioritised on the needs of the vulnerable and wider population. This plan takes a £34.3m gap, down to a £3.7m gap – with more work to do.

"The savings we need to make are significant but we are not in the same dire position that many councils have found themselves in thanks to our prudential financial management and highly successful investment strategy which has raised more than £100million for the council since 2016 and continues to bring in profits even now.

"Ongoing pressures associated with COVID, and new rules are coming which prevent councils investing to earn to pay for services; services above what is mandated from a council. Other councils' investments have run a deficit, which galvanises the view nationally that rule changes are needed. This means no more seven or eight-digit income to fund extra services.

"We can make significant savings by selling buildings which are no longer fit for purpose or require significant maintenance and repair to run without costing the Thurrock taxpayer money, and running services more effectively from fewer, but better equipped buildings.

"There are no easy decisions here. We will undoubtedly become a smaller council and will focus on what is essential rather than what is desired.

"We will look at all aspects of how services are delivered, including staffing considerations and working practices. The protection of front line services, as always, will be our priority and efficiencies will be expected across the whole organisation.

"Everything we do will be done to avoid the vulnerable going without care, and to build back after this pandemic in a way that is sustainable for the future."