COUNCIL bosses say investment to support residents and businesses, enhancing the environment and economic growth are at the centre of their new budget.

Braintree Council’s budget proposals for 2022/23 were approved at a meeting on Monday.

Bosses set out how it will continue to invest in the future of the district, while balancing the financial challenges faced by the rising costs of inflation, energy and fuel costs, the impact of supply chain and other labour shortages, the ongoing impacts from Covid-19 and higher National Insurance costs.

To help the district rebuild as part of its Bouncing Back Together plan, the council will be investing in key priorities.

These include the first phase of an investment strategy which sees several projects nearing completion, investment into Halstead and Witham town centres, more than £200,000 invested into additional staffing for planning enforcement, £141,000 to develop actions set out in the council’s climate change strategy, investment into better cycling and walking routes, continuation of the councillors’ community grant scheme, £150,000 for play area refurbishments, £1.5million added to the council’s capital investment programme and continuing to provide disabled facility grants.

The council adds it has maintained a balance of unallocated general funds with savings and income raising more than £523,000.

The council says it will need to meet an expected budget gap of an estimated £1.2million up to 2025/26.

To ensure a balanced budget and to ensure no cuts, this year there will be a below-inflation council tax increase of 2.68 per cent.

For an average Band D household, this means an increase of £4.95 per year.

Council leader Graham Butland said: “This year’s budget has been designed to deliver what Braintree District Council wants to achieve – to invest in and maintain the high quality services.

“To meet this ongoing budget challenge, we have had to ensure prudent financial planning, make good investments, reduce our costs and increase income, all while maintaining our good services.

“We are seeing more and more people needing our ongoing support, and we will do all we can to provide that help to our residents and businesses.”