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Despite the financial implications that COVID-19 has had, Basildon Council has announced that council tax will be frozen for the second consecutive year.
Basildon’s share of council tax makes up 15 per cent of residents’ council bills; 70 per cent goes to Essex County Council, and the police and fire services take a further 15 per cent combined.
Since March 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, the council has lost revenue and had increases in expenditure totalling nearly £8,000,000.
But rather than increase council tax, the council has already started to implement measures to commercialise services and reduce costs where possible.
The leader of Basildon Council, Councillor Gavin Callaghan, said: “This year has of course been a very tough one financially for the council. We know now that the shortfall in our lost income hasn’t been made up by central government as it was initially promised.
“But we know how tough a year it’s been for our residents, too. And so to recoup that shortfall by increasing council tax doesn’t sit right with me. Basildon residents don’t deserve that.
“Instead we’re commercialising more of our services, reducing spending in areas of the council where coronavirus has shown us we can work effectively differently, like office space. We will also continue to work alongside neighbouring councils to lead on designing and providing shared services as we have with our revenues and benefits services.
“As a council we’ve been working extremely hard throughout the pandemic to make sure that once we’re out the other side, we can build a new Basildon that invests in the futures of our young people, a new generation of homeowners, thriving 21st century town centres and one that doesn’t leave anyone behind. There is lots to look forward to and we will bounce back. ”
The decision is still subject to approval by councillors at full council on February 25.