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Thurrock Council facing £3.9m budget gap even with cuts to staff

Cabinet will vote on the saving proposals next month

Thurrock Council is facing a £3.9 million gap in its budget plans for the next two years, even if it makes significant staff savings. 

The local authority previously revealed plans to cut 25 per cent of staff (500 jobs) and sell the Thameside Complex in Grays to try and recover £34.3 million between 2022 and 2024. 

A new report will go before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee next Monday and highlights several other measures the council is planning to implement to save money. 

They include introducing pay and display at country park and green-space parking areas. It is estimated this would raise £600,000 between 2022 and 2024. 

Waste collections could also be reduced to being held fortnightly and charges might be put in place for food waste collections, saving around £130,000 during the same period. 

The Thameside Complex is home to a theatre, library and museum 

The report attributed the councils financial problems to the “unwinding” of its controversial investment strategy which saw it borrow £1 billion, more than half of which went into renewable energy schemes. 

It also said the situation is unlikely to get better quickly as the longer-term impacts of Covid-19 have placed increased pressure on many of its services, including social care.

Council officers reported the local authority operates from a low financial base and it only raised £69 million in council tax in 2020/21 compared to £84 million in neighbouring Southend. 

It has the third lowest band D council tax compared to other unitary councils. The average in Essex is £1,503 while in Thurrock it is £1,332. 

Around 70 per cent of the properties in the borough are also in bands A to C and raise significantly less than band D level. 

The saving proposals will be voted on by cabinet in December 2021. 

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