Mark Whitehead 08 January 2018

Essex council claims it is on track to become UK's first self-sufficient unitary authority

Thurrock Council in Essex is claiming be the first local authority of its size to become financially 'self-sufficient'.

It has unveiled budgets for the next two years, which it says will not only be balanced but will increase reserves by 38% despite expected cuts in government funding.

The council said its ambition of eliminating its reliance on national funding grants was on track and extra funding would be made available to fund one-off investments on its priorities.

Portfolio holder for finance Cllr Shane Hebb said: 'The council's finances are now on a more secure footing and it means we are as independent as we can be from funding reductions.

'This means the services which residents use and depend on are now more protected from market volatility than they have been in years.

'The new income generated means we break even, even with the reductions we will see come through.'

Cllr Hebb said there were pressures on departmental budgets which would be 'met in the usual way through sound budget management,' adding that 'the investments we have made will, however, be paying dividends this year'.

He said he was 'the first portfolio holder from a top tier authority to be able to forecast for the next two years', adding that 'by also running a surplus, this means we can fund one-off investments in the coming months.'

He said: 'This council is on its way to becoming the first unitary authority which is self-sufficient in the whole United Kingdom, and we will ensure that the residents we represent see the benefits come through.'

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