News from Cabinet on 6 February predicts we are to set the lowest district element of Council Tax in Essex.
Epping Forest District Council is predicted to set the lowest district element of Council Tax in Essex when it agrees to its 2023/2024 budget on 28 February. The news was shared by Finance Portfolio Holder John Philip in Cabinet on 6 February.
With inflation as high as 11% and the cost-of-living crisis biting hard, councils are facing the biggest financial challenge in years. However, the proposed increase of 2.98% in the district council precept will only add 9p to the weekly cost of an average Band D property.
Councillor Philip emphasised the importance of maintaining public services while making real-term cuts in council budgets. Investment remains a priority. Budget provision includes the new Epping Leisure Centre, the North Weald vehicle depot and a fleet of new refuse and recycling trucks.
Contingency money is also being set aside, giving the council flexibility to manage the waste and recycling contract over the next 18 months.
Some very tough choices are being made. A managed reduction in staff levels will include the removal of vacant posts and a small number of redundancies.
Councillor Philip said that this would be a balanced budget. The council knows what it is spending. It knows where its income is from, and it knows what it is for. There is no deficit. With a higher than expected settlement from central government, income from Qualis and commercial properties, Epping Forest District Council will maintain the lowest district element of Council Tax charged to residents in Essex for another year.
Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked Councillor Philip, cabinet colleagues and council staff for their hard work in putting the budget together.
Protecting essential services
Councillor Chris Whitbread said:
The line by line look at what is spent is particularly important in these unprecedented times. We have a budget that balances, but also protects those essential services that we provide.
It is really important that we keep Council Tax increases to the absolute minimum. I know how tough it has been to produce this budget. Tough decisions have been taken.
This is a budget the council can be proud of.
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