Essex County Council (ECC) is consulting the business community on proposals for its Organisation Plan and Budget for 2019/20.

Please help by offering your views on the key points from the plan, and its associated budget, in the link below.

Organisational Plan and Budget 2019-20

Please send your responses by Thursday 31st January.

Financial strategy 2019/20 – 2021/22

This budget is underpinned by a financial strategy to ensure the financial sustainability of the Council and to deliver essential services to residents, whilst keeping council tax as low as possible.

Over the last 4 years the Council has generated savings to taxpayers of £311m and is aiming to deliver a further £60m of new savings by the end of 2019/20 (6% of net budget).

The Council has an outstanding track record both in terms of delivering savings, generating income and delivering value to our residents, with a constant focus on strategic outcomes and financial prudence.

Capital programme 2019/20

The total of the 2019/20 programme is £249m. This can be analysed as follows:

  • Invest to Maintain totals £83m and includes areas where the Council is maintaining (but extending the life of) its current assets, for example, highways and the flood programme.
  • Invest to Save / Generate Return totals £22m and includes areas where the Council is investing to generate a return or saving, for example, accommodation for older people with disabilities, LED lighting and the Essex Housing Programme
  • Invest to Grow totals £144m and includes areas where the Council is expanding its capacity, for example, economic growth schemes in infrastructure and highways, creating new school places to meet additional demand from demographic changes, new housing developments and enhancing skills in key growth areas

Revenue programme 2019/20

Despite the financial challenges facing local government, our budget for 2019/20 is increasing. Gross expenditure on Council services in 2019/20 is £2,463m. After taking income and specific grants into account, the net costs of services amounts to £937m, an increase of £22m or 2% over 2018/19.

Income

Within the budget, income of £277m is expected in 2019/20, an increase of £12m when compared to 2018/19.

Over 49% of income is derived from fees and charges; of this the majority is raised from means tested charges for adult social care. A significant proportion (81%) of the income recharges relate to the Better Care Fund.

A key driver for sustainability is ensuring that we drive up commercial income and ensure that, as far as we can, the charges we make for services reflect the cost of provision.

This includes commercial income, rental income and additional income through secured through a review of 720 fees and charges across all services: in total this will increase income by close to £10m in the financial year 2019/20. In addition the Council is driving up capital receipts (budgeted at an increase to £7m of receipts in 2019/20 rising to £10m and £15m in the following 2 financial years).

We have commenced a full review of the commercial potential of the Council’s property estate, and the opportunities for capital receipts and reduced running costs of the estate will become clearer in 2019/20.

Tell us what you think of the key points of Essex County Council’s capital and revenue plans here: Organisational Plan and Budget 2019-20