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Council tax likely to rise next year
2:00pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in News
COUNCIL tax is likely to rise for the first time in three years next year, the leader of Thurrock Council has said.
John Kent announced at a cabinet meeting last Wednesday evening that a government bonus, handed out in the last two years for freezing the rate of council tax, is set to end next year.
This makes an increase in council tax very likely, hitting residents across the borough whose budgets are already stretched.
Addressing the cabinet, John Kent said: “The government’s funding for not putting up council tax, the council tax freeze from two years ago, comes to an end next year and there is no indication that there will be further funding for a freeze at the moment.
“That being the case it looks very likely that we will need to increase council tax for what will be the first time in three years.”
The announcment came as Mr Kent revealed the council faces making “major” cuts to spending over the next three years.
Next year, the council will receive about £4.5million less from the government, rising to £7.5million the year after.
Increasing pressures on services such as childcare mean that savings of around £17million may be required over the next three years.
According to Mr Kent, the council has already found savings of more than £30million in recent years. He called this a “tremendous achievement”, given that a number of council services have improved
during that time.
Mr Kent said: “Making savings is becoming increasingly difficult.
"First you identify areas where it’s obvious money is being wasted, then you concentrate on cutting management costs to reduce the impact on important services.
“But eventually you reach the point where services will be hit. I’m worried that point is rapidly approaching.
“We will continue to seek new ways of working, more efficient ways, perhaps increasing our links with Barking and Dagenham to the benefit of residents in both boroughs.
“When we took control of the council two years ago we instituted the creation of a medium-term financial plan and this is exactly why.
“It’s not good news, but at least we have notice of what is coming and can start planning, warning and talking with people now, months and years before the tough decisions have to be taken and acted on.”