Essex residents face tax rises as county council and crime commissioner unveil proposals

Essex County Council

Essex County Council - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council is set to put its element of tax bills up by almost five per cent from April as it prepares for the day when financial help from the government ceases.

ECC leader David Finch

ECC leader David Finch - Credit: Archant

And a further rise by police and crime commissioner Roger Hirst could put up bills further – he is looking to put up his element of council tax bills by nearly eight per cent to help fund 150 extra police officers.

The effect for the occupier of Band D property would be a rise of £70 a year – £58 to the county council, £12 to the police.

The county’s cabinet is to meet next week and it is expected to agree a basic budget increase of 2.99 per cent and a further two per cent increase in the social care precept it charges.

The increase will help to pay for a capital investment programme of £300m which includes the construction of five schools – two in Colchester – and some investment in the preparations for the new A120 road between Marks Tey and Braintree.

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Council leader, Councillor David Finch said the outlook for local authorities was still uncertain because while government grants were being replaced by the ability to keep business rates from 2020, it was unclear what extra requirements there would be from Whitehall.

In the meantime the council had learned to work in “smarter” ways – leading it to sometimes helping more people while spending less.

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Cllr Finch said: “This is a positive, practical and prioritised set of proposals. It takes a balanced and realistic budget view but at the same time, proposes record investment in key services and infrastructure.

“We have growing demand for essential services and meeting that demand with dwindling resources is a huge challenge. But we can face this challenge with confidence and strength – our track record for efficiency and innovation is second to none.”

The council says it has delivered more than £350m of savings in the last four years by generating income and reducing costs.

Mr Hirst said: “It is clear from every public meeting that I attend and from the many officers and members of the public that I talk to, that people want more police officers in their local areas and are prepared to pay to see them.

“I promised in my election manifesto to focus on more local, visible policing and I am determined to deliver on this and help to create the safe and secure communities people want.”

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