A CASH-STRAPPED council says tough budget decisions will "protect essential services" after councillors rubber stamped proposals. 

Braintree Council says "prudent management" in recent years means it should not face cuts like other councils in Essex. 

The council says it has made £10million in savings and extra income over the past ten years.

It said whilst it has set a balanced budget for 2024-2025, a budget gap increasing up to £2.3 million per annum is projected by 2027-28.

Braintree and Witham Times:  Budget approved - Braintree Council leader Graham Butland Budget approved - Braintree Council leader Graham Butland (Image: N/A)

Graham Butland, leader of the council, said: “Despite the many financial challenges faced by all councils, we’ve worked hard to balance our budget this year and protect essential services residents and businesses rely on.

“While we are in a good financial position compared to others, we are still not immune to significant financial challenges ahead, driven largely by pressures outside of our control like inflation and long-term reduced government funding.

“This is why we continue to take necessary and cautious steps to find much-needed savings.

“We continue to lobby for fairer funding to deal with increasing demands and costs, and a commitment on longer-term funding for councils to give certainty over financial planning.”

How the £19.6 million will be spent by category

  • £4.4 million - refuse and recycling
  • £2.4 million - parks, cemeteries, and landscapes
  • £1.9 million - street cleaning and litter control
  • £1.6 million - planning and development
  • £1.5 million - environmental and regulatory services
  • £1.5 million - democracy and elections
  • £1.4 million - support services (including ICT, HR, legal, finance, property and communications)
  • £1.3 million - housing and homelessness
  • £1.2 million - local tax and benefit
  • £1.1 million - community services and support
  • £0.8 million - economic development and strategic investment
  • £0.5million - culture and leisure

The council says it will continue to deliver affordable housing, waste services, play area improvements and supporting the district to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

It is confirmed the Councillor Community grant will continue with £1,250 allocated to each councillor to support community projects.

In addition £50,000 has been set aside for residents affected by the cost of living crisis in the Exceptional Hardship Fund.

Kevin Bowers, resources boss, said: “By saving £10million over the past ten years means our residents and businesses are not facing the same cuts to essential services as many other councils.

Braintree and Witham Times: Town - Braintree's High StreetTown - Braintree's High Street (Image: Newsquest)

“We know we face significant financial challenges ahead and work is underway to tackle this through our transformation programme including changing and adapting to support the delivery of services to make us fit for the future.”