Consultation open on county council's budget priorities

PUBLISHED: 08:06 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:06 26 November 2019

Essex County Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

Essex County Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

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A public consultation regarding Essex County Council's budget priorities will be available online until December 15.

It comes as Essex County Council (ECC) aims to develop its spending plans for the 2020/2021 period.

The survey invites residents and businesses to "help inform thinking" with insights into their priorities for the next financial year's budget.

This is needed because, according to a council spokesman, ECC spends about £2billion on essential services annually, but for every £1 received from the Government five years ago, only 37p is currently received.

Councillor David Finch, leader of the council, said: "Our effectiveness as a council was confirmed last week when for the second year running, Essex was named in the top 10 most productive councils by the consultants IMPOWER

"But year-on-year, the money we receive from Government has been reducing, meaning that we have to make very important and sometimes difficult decisions on where we spend it, and where we could make savings. We are also affected by factors such as inflation and the national living wage in the same way all large employers are.

"That is why we are consulting with residents and local businesses in Essex, to find out what their priorities are. We have already had to make over £370m of savings over the past five years, so it really is important to gather the views and ideas from residents and businesses before the planning process begins."

The essential services covered by the budget sum include social care, education and highways. An increasing number of people were identified as using ECC services, with prices going up as well.

In 2019-2020, almost £2.5billion was received for Essex services, out of which almost 54 per cent from Government grants and 27 per cent (£680m) through council tax.

The previous year's budget was spent as follows: 51 per cent for education, 24 per cent for adult social care, six per cent for children and families, four per cent for environment and waste, three per cent for public health, two per cent for infrastructure, 11 per cent for "other" areas of interest.

The consultation can be accessed on the ECC's website, at https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/rci/budget-consultation-2020.

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