Essex County Council facing up to challenges of budget.

Politics / Mon 13th Jul 2015 at 11:05am

ESSEX is bracing itself for unprecedented challenges following the budget, residents are being warned.

Cllr David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, was responding to the packages of measures confirmed by Chancellor George Osborne.

These included details of the £12 billion of spending cuts to the welfare budget over the coming three years, greater powers of devolution, a new national living wage, a higher inheritance tax threshold and potential powers to agree Sunday trading hours locally.

But with Government funding to the NHS, education, and international aid all ring-fenced, Local Government will bear the brunt of future cuts.

Cllr Finch said: “We applaud the potential for local councils to decide their own Sunday trading hours – just the sort of issues that should be decided locally and something which should be devolved to cities, boroughs and districts.

“But it seems clear after today’s announcement that although we have seen welcome and well-deserved improvements in the economy, both here and abroad, we are all still facing a very tough financial climate.

“The Chancellor’s budget provides us with some big challenges around service delivery.”

Over the last five years, Essex County Council has saved the taxpayer over half a billion pounds and frozen council tax each and every year. However, Cllr Finch explained, while the council had slimmed down the demands of an increasing and ageing population had continued to grow.

Cllr Finch said: “We have been role models of fiscal management and we will continue to look at new ways of working. But as we go forward, the opportunity to make significant efficiencies will become very much harder.

“Like us, the Government is doing the responsible thing and balancing the books. But this means tough times ahead. The squeeze of further cuts and an ageing population will inevitably lead to very difficult decisions around services.

“Our focus must be on protecting vulnerable people, the elderly and our key services.”

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1 Comment for Essex County Council facing up to challenges of budget.:

2015-07-14 15:19:06

How about reducing the number of officers earning more than the Prime Minister for a start? (Essex CC has more officers earning more than the Prime Minister than any other Council in the UK) How about getting shot of the stupid expensive software to turn our streetlamps off - and look at solar technology to save money instead? After all this policy saves no money at all until 2019-20! How about cutting down on expensive perks for members and officers! Not hard at all really is it!

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