Essex Conservatives have dropped 'sound finance' from their 2021/22 budget* and kicked the financial can down the road, according to the Liberal Democrats.
Essex County Council is proposing a budget that depends on £46 million of un-named cuts that even their own finance officer says have a "risk of not being delivered". Essex CC has also delayed a 3.5% rise in Council Tax to next year (2% general fund and 1.5% social care).
Said Essex Lib Dem Leader Cllr. Mike Mackrory, "This is a highly irresponsible budget from Essex Conservatives. It rests on the quicksand of cuts that have NOT been identified. Moreover, the areas for likely cuts that have been 'pencilled in' are mainly from Health and Social Care, when we will be in a pandemic for months to come, and also Environment and Climate Change, despite that being the greatest threat to our current way of life.
Clearly, the Conservatives hope to boost their election chances later this year by not telling us where the cuts will fall and putting off the difficult decisions that are inevitable."
The Conservatives are proposing a budget that pretends to balance, by including cuts to services that have not been identified. In their own report they say £29 million of cuts have a medium risk of not being delivered and almost £5 million of cuts have a high risk of not being delivered.
* Para 6.3 (P101/325 Cabinet Agenda at http://bit.ly/ECC-Cabinet0121 ): "The budget assumes £46m of savings to balance the 2021/22 budget. Of these £30m are recurrent and £16m are one off savings" i.e. cuts delayed to next year.