COUNCIL tax in Thurrock is set to be hiked in a bid to ensure social care and services to help those hit harden by Covid-19 are protected.

The current proposals devised by council bosses are for a 1.99 per cent increase on council tax and a three per cent increase to the adult social care precept.

The increases equate to 99p for a week for 70 per cent of Thurrock residents, with 67p of that going directly to providing adult social care.

Shane Hebb, cabinet member for finance, said: “Thurrock’s council tax levels are about £100 cheaper than neighbouring council areas, which is good for our residents, although it means that we have less to spend on services than other councils do.

“At a time like this – certainly as an authority with social care responsibilities – it is important that we do all we can to ensure that those who need our care are looked after.

“This increase will secure those services for some of the most vulnerable people living in our borough.

“The impacts of COVID are far reaching and will be long felt by a great many.

“This planned budget is a balanced budget, which is very positive after a year like the one we’ve all had.

“Our financial plan has led to us trebling reserves since 2016 up to £24m, largely driven by an innovative investment approach which has generated more than £70million to spend on Thurrock services over the last two years.

“This means that services can be reformed at a more considered pace and we have not had to perform in-year emergency budgets.”

Cabinet also heard proposed changes to fees and charges.

Increases have been kept small with the most significant change coming in the charges for home care services which will see a phased increase over the coming three years for the very few to eventually bring them in line with costs while giving wage increases to the dedicated carers who provide this critical service.

The council has also reduced its forecast borrowing levels by £350million over the next three years.

With the availability of the investment market being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, Thurrock Council is “winding down” its investment policy.