Council approves balanced budget that protects vital services despite challenging financial climate

Braintree District Council’s budget of £19.6 million for 2024-25 has been approved by councillors at the Full Council meeting yesterday (Monday 19 February).

This continues the council’s commitment to maintain frontline services and deliver on priorities, without the need for cuts to balance the budget.

Prudent financial management means Braintree District Council is in a sound position this year compared to many other councils, despite ongoing financial pressures driven by inflation, increased demand on services and uncertainty over long-term government funding. Whilst the council has prudently set aside reserves as part of its long-term financial planning, a budget deficit increasing up to £2.3m per year is predicted up to 2027-28. 

To meet this future financial challenge and to build sustainable services, a ‘Fit for the Future’ transformation programme is underway looking at transforming how the council works, how it can use resources more effectively, work together with partners to align services and share capabilities and closely scrutinising how it uses assets and resources.

The council continues to deliver on priorities and invest in essential services including affordable housing, waste service delivery, play area improvements and supporting the district to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. This is on top of existing projects that include funding for a Maltings Lane Community Centre, town centre improvements in Halstead and Witham, funding to Halstead voluntary, faith and community groups and skatepark refurbishments across the district.

The Councillor Community Grant scheme will continue, with £1,250 allocated to each councillor to support local community projects. During 2022-23, the scheme helped fund 86 community projects totalling £80,735 across the district.

With 60% of the council’s net budget being funded from council tax, council tax will increase by an extra 11p per week based on a Band D property to help protect services, ensure that unavoidable cost pressures can be met and to support longer-term financial stability. Braintree District Council continues to remain one of the lowest council tax rates in Essex and below the national average of shire districts.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District 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.”

Cllr Kevin Bowers, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance at Braintree District Council, said: “Our prudent financial management by saving £10m over the past 10 years means our local residents and businesses are not facing the same cuts to essential services as many other councils. 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.”

The council continues to provide a range of support for those residents hardest hit by the cost of living, including additional support for low-income households through its new Council Tax Support Scheme. An extra £50,000 has also been set aside to be allocated through an Exceptional Hardship Fund.   

Residents can find out more about the council’s budget position, where the council’s money comes from and how it is spent at

Published: 20th February 2024