15 February 2019 - Basildon Council has agreed a budget that has plugged a potential £1.5m shortfall, created room for £945,000 investment in projects to improve local communities and invests £2m from capital spending to support the local economy and regeneration in the borough.

The budget is balanced with a 2.99% rise in council tax, the rise assumed by government when it calculated its funding support for Basildon Council.

"We have set our budget, allocated our resources and created priorities based on engaging with our residents and listening to what they have told us," said Council Leader, Cllr Andrew Baggott.

"We know that crime and community safety is residents' number one concern and want money put into tackling crime, with more police on our streets. This budget creates the resource to do this and we have talked to Essex Police about how the council can fund two extra officers for Basildon over and above the allocation they are making.

"We know they want more resource put into our Pride Teams to keep their local areas clean and presentable, to continue our crackdown on crime against the environment and make it more attractive to use our town centres with free car parking. This budget gives extra funding for our committees so that we can fund all of this and more.

"We have also committed £2m from our capital budget to develop local business opportunities and create jobs, along with further projects to improve our town centres and local neighbourhoods.

"This is a budget to get things done and to make a real difference to people's lives now and into the future. I would have loved to have done this without asking for a rise in council tax, but the truth is if we weren't to do that - and the government expects that we will - we would be storing up greater problems for next year's budget and the years after, which would make it very, very difficult to maintain the levels of service and investment our communities need."

"We are making commercial investments and finding new ways to earn income to offset loss of funding and reduce the burden on taxpayers. And we are using some of our reserves to support our spending while continuing to put enough aside to provide protection for our services in uncertain times."

Basildon Council's government funding has continued to fall - by almost 40% in the last four years - and the government assumes a council tax rise by the full 2.99% the council is allowed when it calculates the level of support the council is to get.