Thurrock council tax to be set below 10 per cent

Thurrock residents are to be spared a 10 per cent increase in council tax this year, but the cash-strapped council has yet to reveal exactly how much extra they will have to pay.

Thurrock Council’s cabinet met on Wednesday to note and approve £18.2million of budget saving measures.

The cabinet approved £11.3million of the proposed savings for 2024/25 while a further £6.9million savings are still out to consultation or need further development.

The 53 areas where services will be cut include moving from weekly to alternate week kerbside recycling collections and a restructuring of children’s social care

However, speaking at the meeting, Graham Snell, councillor responsible for finance, human resources and payroll, said residents would be spared the worse-case scenario for council tax hikes this year.

He said: “I can confirm that we are not considering a 10 per cent rise in council tax this year. The budget that will be presented to council in February will reflect that position.”

Andrew Jefferies, leader of the council, added: “We are not imposing or considering a 10 per cent increase in council tax which should give some reassurance to residents.”

The council issued a s114 notice, effectively declaring itself bankrupt in after making a raft of disastrous investments using money borrowed from other council’s. The council is busy divesting itself of those investments.

Ben Maney, councillor responsible for regeneration and highways, hinted an inevitable council tax hike may not be far behind 10 per cent.

He said: “I do welcome the decision not to proceed to a 10 per cent council tax increase but I think we need to make it very clear and place it on record the fact that that is in no way us ignoring the fact that Thurrock has a very difficult job to do and one of the fundamental challenges is to address that deficiency in our base budget.

“That’s the root of so many of Thurrock’s problems. The investment strategy was simply an attempt to get around the fact we don’t raise enough money via council tax when you compare us to alike local authorities.”

Cllr Maney added: “It wasn’t caused by the investment strategy. It was years of not making sensible decisions about council tax which has lead us to that position and those who ignore that are doing a disservice to the council and residents.

“Whatever figure we arrive at the message we want to send to observers is we are absolutely conscious of the fact that Thurrock’s survival is predicated on the fact that we address that deficiency in our budget and there are still going to be difficult decisions about that.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter