Thurrock Council is aiming to raise council tax by 7.99 per cent this year, it has revealed.
Cabinet papers show a council tax rise of 5.99 per cent along with an additional 2 per cent rise for adult social care which will enable the council to present a balanced budget for 2024/25.
Commissioners, brought in to oversee the debt-laden council’s financial recovery, along with Government ministers, had urged the council to approve a further 10 per cent increase.
Andrew Jefferies, leader of the council, said: “My new administration is rebuilding the council’s finances and the progress we have made has been independently highlighted. Although there is much more work to be done, it is agreed Thurrock is on the road to recovery.
“We have resisted pressure to increase council tax by 10 per cent and this has only been possible because of the progress made by my administration. This includes the recent sale of the Toucan solar farm(s) which has wiped over half a billion pounds from the council’s debt.”
The council aims to save £18.2million for next two years and a further £13.65million for each of the following three years.
It has introduced a range of cost-cutting measures including fortnightly waste collections with an £80 subscription fee for a garden waste service, home to school travel charges, a 20 per cent hike in pay and display, on-street parking charges and a 7.7 per cent increase in council rents.
The council has set aside £442,000 for the Thameside Theatre building after previously confirming it would remain in operation.
Cllr Jefferies added: “We are protecting front line services such as adults and children’s social care, refuse collection and environmental services. In fact we are rolling out new services including the free Christmas tree and food waste collection services.
“We are also supporting the delivery of Thames Freeport which will create thousands of local jobs and boost Thurrock’s economy immeasurably. Those who continue to paint a picture of doom and gloom need to get behind this year’s budget.”
John Kent the leader of the Labour group, said: “The announcement that Thurrock Conservatives plan to impose another inflation-busting council tax rise will come as a blow to many hard-pushed Thurrock residents. “The leader of the council appears to be trying to paint this as good news.
“The fact is, it is coming on top of last year’s ten percent council tax hike, alongside £20 million worth of service cuts and together with a raft of inflation busting increases to the council’s fees and charges.
“The Tories have bankrupted Thurrock Council and we will all be paying the price in higher Council Tax Bills, higher debt and poorer services for many years to come.”
The increase will be discussed at cabinet on Wednesday before being presented for approval at full council.