Increased focus on social care thanks to future financial plans

12 February 2021

Thurrock Council's Cabinet has proposed an increase in Council Tax to help ensure that social care and services to help those hit hardest by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are protected.

The current proposals are for an increase of 1.99% on Council Tax and a 3% increase on the Adult Social Care precept.

Cllr Shane Hebb, Cabinet member for finance, said: "The increase we are proposing to put before full Council later this month amounts to 99p a week for 70% of the borough’s households; and of that 67p will go directly to providing adult social care.

"Thurrock's Council Tax levels are around £100 cheaper than neighbouring council areas, which is good for our residents, although it means that we have less to spend on services than other councils do.

“At a time like this – certainly as an authority with social care responsibilities – it is important that we do all we can to ensure that those who need our care are looked after. This increase will secure those services for some of the most vulnerable people living in our borough. 

"The impacts of COVID are far reaching and will be long felt by a great many.

"This planned budget is a balanced budget, which is positive after a year like 2020.

"Our financial plan has led to us trebling reserves since 2016 up to £24m, largely driven by an innovative investment approach which has generated more than £70 million to spend on Thurrock services over the last two years.

"This means that services can be reformed at a more considered pace and we have not had to perform in-year emergency budgets.

"We have reduced our forecast borrowing levels by £350 million over the next three years. As we have said before, the availability of the investment market is not what it once was, meaning that we are winding down that policy, which means an accelerated set of service reforms, which would have otherwise all had to have been done quickly and more damagingly in 2016."

Cabinet also heard proposed changes to fees and charges. Increases have been kept small with the most significant change coming in the charges for home care services which will see a phased increase over the coming three years for the very few to eventually bring them in line with costs while giving wage increases to the dedicated carers who provide this critical service.