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Council leader considers two per cent council tax increase
1:30pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in News
THE leader of Thurrock Council has suggested increasing council tax by two per cent as the local authority faces having to make nearly £20million of savings over the next four years.
More than £3million needs to be slashed from the council’s budget in the next 18 months with a further £17million needing to be saved over the following three years.
Reductions in funding from government and added pressure on providing adult and children’s social care mean that the savings are necessary but becoming increasingly difficult to make.
In addition, the council is having to take on new responsibilities such as in flooding, health and youth justice which are set to cost the authority £9million.
Council leader John Kent said: “One question we have to ask is whether or not to increase council tax this year.
"In the previous two years there has been a so called, council tax freeze grant, but that is building up a problem for future years.
"At some point the grant will end and there will be a hole in the finances.
“This year the government is offering a freeze grant of one per cent, or around £½ million in our case.
"Last year that grant was worth £1.5million so in effect that is a further £1 million cut to our budget, so maybe we should consider a two per cent or £1 million increase, at least that million would come in every year.
“We’ve not decided, but we are thinking about it as a way to help reduce the gap.
"Thurrock has the lowest council tax in Essex and I reckon that would still be the case with a two per cent rise.”
He added that the council is going to look to consult with residents on where cuts can be made in an initiative called Let’s Talk Two, which follows on from the productive Let’s Talk consultation of two years ago.
Cllr Kent said: “After the first Let’s Talk, we were able to implement many of the savings ideas either directly or with the odd tweak here and there.
"We’ll be announcing Let’s Talk II in the next couple of weeks.
“We will need ideas for next year and the three years after that. We’re already working on it, why not give us your ideas too.”
Savings of up to £4.5million are being proposed as part of the council’s transformation project, a scheme which looks to change the way the council does things to save money.
For instance, it installed multi-functional printers two years ago, which saved hundreds of thousands of pounds.