Strong financial planning, an innovative approach to commercial opportunities and an impressive investment portfolio mean that Thurrock Council has a balanced budget until 2023.
The financial out-turn report, which will be presented to Cabinet next week, also highlights that 2018/19 was the first of five years of self-sufficiency and reports that the council’s reserves have increased by more than £13.5m.
Total reserves – including education, public health, earmarked reserves, Housing Revenue Account reserves and general fund balance – have increased from £21,971,000 on 31 March 2018, to £35,214,000 on 31 March 2019.
The reserves include £4m set aside for financial resilience, including managing the transition into the new system of business rate retention and economic factors, and £3.45m for specific transformation projects.
Thurrock Council has maintained a General Fund Balance at £11m, increased from £8m just 2 years ago, and the Housing Revenue Account balance £2.175m.
Over the course of last year the council invested nearly £66m in key capital and infrastructure projects including:
- £10m on transforming council homes
- £25.6m improving highways infrastructure
- more than £1m on environmental improvements, including improvements to war memorials, burial grounds and public spaces.
Cllr Shane Hebb, Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council, said: "We are in one of the strongest financial positions of any unitary authority in the UK and our current financial out-turn report shows that our finances are going from strength to strength.
"The simple facts are that Thurrock currently has a 4-year balanced budget and a published £16m surplus over the same period with no cuts to services as well as freezing council tax for this year – something less than 5% of councils in the UK achieved last year.
"Despite freezing Council Tax, increasing general reserves, Thurrock Council has invested significantly in adults', children’s and environmental services, including £7m for new bin lorries and providing funding for new local schools, as examples.
"On top of this we have gone above and beyond by committing around £5m from surpluses created over the last 2 years to fund services councils do not have a legal duty to provide, including £500,000 for mental health support in local schools, £670,000 this year and last year to tackle anti-social behaviour, £1m for extra police over 3 years, and £1.5m for environmental improvements.”