Proposals for balanced budget focus on children and adult social care

10 February 2022

Thurrock Council's Cabinet has set out proposals for a balanced budget next year, which will see a spending boost for children and adult social care.

Cllr Shane Hebb said: "We want to ensure that any extra money provided from council tax will be for key services which deal with the caring and wellbeing of the borough’s most vulnerable children and adults - and so the increase will be ring-fenced to social care need.

"We have been through the most turbulent financial period in a generation because of the additional pressures the global pandemic has put us, and all other local authorities, under.

"The reason we have been able to weather this storm as well as we have is thanks to our Investment approach. In 2016, Thurrock Council was faced with a choice – increase tax by a further 42% over 5 years, or, embark on an investment approach. The investment approach which was initially taken in 2016 and adopted by Full Council unanimously in 2017 has generated £115million in income to fund additional services and allowed us to increase our reserves 300% from £8million to £24million, and withstood a 23-month long pandemic.

"The approach is an important part of the reason we have had a balanced budget for the last 2 years. Even though the approach is being wound down, the cross-party Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed how to further develop members oversight.

"There is no doubt that change is needed but by focusing on only the most important capital projects, reshaping services to better target outcomes for residents, managing recruitment and looking at how we can deliver services differently while ensuring minimal impacts on residents we are able to deliver a balanced budget next year.

"The council tax increase represents the same cost as a first-class stamp once per week for most households – but those who are struggling, who want to pay but find themselves in difficulty doing so, should look to the council's Local Council Tax Support scheme, which can help, or reach out to us for help. We increased the Local Council Tax Support by £0.7million last year and are maintaining it this year to support those who need help.

Proposals will go to the budget-setting meeting of Full Council on 23 February 2022 for a final decision.