Essex facing 3% rise in County Hall’s share of council tax
PUBLISHED: 18:09 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:56 17 January 2017
Households in Essex are due to pay an average of £35 extra next financial year in council tax under plans unveiled by County Hall and fire chiefs.
The Essex County Council administration is proposing a 3% rise in the social care precept part of its share of council tax, and a freeze on the main element – meaning a Band D household will pay 65p per week more if the budget is approved at full council.
Meanwhile the Essex Fire Authority is proposing a 1.99% rise – £1.35 over the year for a Band D home – in its council tax rate, as set out in its modernisation 2020 Programme last year.
Spending plans from County Hall include creating 2,500 more school places and 400 more special needs school places in Essex with £18million to improve early years’ provision, as well as £6m on flood defences, £9m on housing, and £250,000 each on improving the A120 Millennium Way sliproads and early work on Beaulieu Park station in Springfield, north Chelmsford.
Other proposed capital spending includes £1.5m on the ongoing Jaywick roads improvement project, £350,000 on a Harwich Innovation Centre, and £0.5m on appraisal work for an improved junction 8 on the M11.
There is also £210,000 earmarked for improvements to bus lane camera enforcement.
John Spence, county councillor for finance, said saving would be made with ongoing efficiencies, continuing to do things differently, and by making some services more profitable.
He said: “To balance budgets there is a huge amount of work to be done.
“We have frozen council tax in five of the past six years, and the rate of council tax rise will be less than the cost of living. We want to reduce the burden on the tax payer.
“We want a great start for young people, great roads to drive on and jobs to go to, so we need the skills for those jobs, and houses for people in the right places, and brilliant social care when you get older or more vulnerable.
“We pledged to spend £20m by 2020 on flood defence work, and that goes on in a number of smaller schemes around the county – not just on our coastline.
“Expansion of the bus lane cameras will allow us to follow up when fines are not necessarily recovered.
“There is an underlying philosophy here – where possible we should minimise the increase in our residents’ council tax and provide services at a commercial rate, such as our legal service covering its costs, or in this case if someone does wrong then they pay for it.”
The county council budget plans will go before cabinet next Tuesday, January 24, and to full council on February 14, while the Essex Fire Authority budget will be debated at a full authority meeting on February 15.