SOCIAL care, education and roads are the focus of a pre-election budget from Conservative-run Essex County Council.

Members confirmed plans to spend £1.824 million on public services (up from £1,774 million in 2016/17, including a ‘record’ £263 million capital spending programme, up £39 million on last year.

The 2017-18 budget also includes implementing a 3 per cent social care levy - equivalent to 65p a week on a Band D property- to boost planned £524 million spending by a further £17 million.

Council leader David Finch said: “We are already spending more than £1.4 million a day on adult social care but the number of people over 85 who need care is set to grow by 50 per cent in the next decade.

“So we have decided to implement a 3 per cent levy to raise an extra £17 million to support our most vulnerable people, while continuing to lobby government for a wholesale review of the system to create a sustainable care system for future generations.”

Despite a £44 million cut in government support, the council said it was spending more on transport and schools.

Mr Finch said: “Over the last four years, this administration has kept Council Tax low to support all our residents , especially those who has just about managing tax.”

“We’ve invested £191 million in extra school places - 26,000 new places by 2025- and 91 per cent of schools are now classified as good or outstanding, up from 70 per cent four years ago.”

“We’ve invested £681 million in improving transport infrastructure and defects on major routes are at a record and among the best in the country.”

The Conservative councillor added his council has helped protect 443 properties against flooding, aiming to protect 2,300 homes by 2020.

Essex County Council also pledged to build 1,800 homes that enable older people to live independently for longer. It also said it paved the way for three new Garden Communities to help meet the county’s housing needs and brought superfast broadband to 75,000 homes.

Budget figures revealed Council Tax income would rise from £570 million in 2016/17 to £610 million in 2017/18. Essex County Council also claimed £597 million “savings over the past seven years through financial prudence, efficiency savings and innovation of services” with the council “on track to save” £106 million in 2017/18.