Conservative-led Essex County Council has approved a balanced budget for 2022/23. This is a budget that puts people first, supporting the most vulnerable people across Essex and driving the levelling up agenda across the County. This ambitious budget paves the path for recovery investing in infrastructure to support the build back from the pandemic.
Under Conservative Leadership, Essex County Council has been recognised as one of the most efficient Councils in the Country. However, like all local authorities across the UK, Essex has experienced several challenges this financial year including the impact of the pandemic, issues with supply chains, inflation, and the increasing costs of adult social care. The Council has a stark choice of increasing taxes or facing an unacceptable cut in services. Therefore, the Council is increasing their share in tax by 4.59%, which will cost £60.21 per year for a Band D Council Taxpayer, this includes a 1.99% increase in the Adult Social Care Precept for 2022/23 and 1.5% for the deferred precept for 2021/22.
Sound financial management is at the core of this budget. The Conservative Council never forget there is no council money but the people’s money. The Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Chris Whitbread (pictured) said, “We are laying firm foundations now for the future. Our responsible approach to finance is so that we can hand over the council in a stronger condition than it was ten years ago to the next council.”
This budget fulfils our moral duty of supporting the most vulnerable people in Essex, providing support for 17,000 adults and 2,500 children in need or in care. Well over 40% of the budget funds Adult Social Care and Health, amounting to £737 Million. 2.5% of the council tax increase relating solely to the funding of adult social care which covers Older People, the Physically and Sensory Impaired, people struggling with mental health and those with Learning Disabilities.
Essex County Council is working to create a better future for all Essex Residents and 'Level Up' across the County, promoting equal opportunity. This budget will ignite the Council's Plan for 'Everyone's Essex.’ focusing on a strong, inclusive and sustainable economy; a high-quality environment; health, wellbeing and independence for all ages; and a good place for our children and families to grow.
The Council's ambitious £1.3 Billion Capital Programme invests in the County's Infrastructure as we build back from the pandemic. Across the next 4 years, this will create over 5,000 new school places, invest in 14 major road schemes, build 763 new homes, and support the maintenance of the 5,100 miles of road in Essex.
During the budget announcement, there was also the unveiling of additional spending on the issues that matter most to local people with a further £2 Million of investment in our infrastructure through the creation of a new ‘Pothole Fund’, targeting fixes where they are most needed.
The Cabinet Member for Finance also announced that the Council will be investing £10m in skills and economic development, enabling residents to unleash their potential. In addition, there will be a further £1 Million invested in the ‘Levelling Up’ Agenda, boosting the £10 million investment in this area to ensure opportunity is spread equally across the county.
The budget also recognised the challenges residents were facing around the cost-of-living crisis. Welcoming the Government’s support with £200 towards the cost of energy bills and a £150 Council tax rebate for Band A to D properties. Essex County Council will be putting £700,000 into the Essential Living Fund and continuing to invest in Hardship funds across the county.
The Leader of Essex County Council, Councillor Kevin Bentley has welcomed the Council’s Budget, “This is a budget for Everyone’s Essex. Our focus remains on supporting the people of Essex. We will be investing in climate, in Levelling Up, in skills and our economy, as well as our culture and heritage sector.”