People in Essex 'pay more tax'

PEOPLE in Essex pay £800 more in taxes each year than the national average, it has been claimed.Research by Essex County Council was disclosed yesterday and claimed that people in the county pay above average but get far less back in spending on public services.

PEOPLE in Essex pay £800 more in taxes each year than the national average, it has been claimed.

Research by Essex County Council was disclosed yesterday and claimed that people in the county pay above average but get far less back in spending on public services.

Leading political figures claimed yesterday that residents could face a mounting council tax bill because money is being diverted from Essex and spent elsewhere.

The research showed that despite paying £800 more tax than the national average of £6,200 per head, Essex people get around £5,000 spent on the public services they use each year - compared with the national average of £7,200.


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A council tax increase of up to five per cent is currently being used as the basis for next year's budget projections by the council's finance officers.

But this could change if the grant from the Government (called the settlement grant) towards local authority funding is less than expected.

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The council's research also showed that a third of all taxes paid by the people of Essex will be spent elsewhere in the country.

The findings have bolstered calls currently being made by Essex County Council - and other authorities in the southern region - for the Government to give the county a generous settlement grant and to avoid taking money from the people of Essex and spending it in the north.

But yesterday the Government hit back saying the council's claims were “speculation”.

David Finch, the county council's finance cabinet member, said: “We can only hope that we get a fair and decent settlement. The consequences if we do not get a decent settlement will be felt by the tax-payers of Essex who will carry the burden of a rising council tax.

“Clearly Essex has been working for the last three years on efficiency and improvements to try and keep the council as low as possible.

“Our anxiety and worry is that the Government will divert funds out again from Essex to spend in the north, when there are clearly infrastructure investments needed here in the county.”

Lord Hanningfield described the gap between what Essex pays in taxes and gets in public investment as “unacceptable” adding: “This tax gap shows how central Government is short-changing the people of Essex.

“What's worse, this gap looks likely to get wider. In Essex we have a backlog of projects needing funding, particularly for our roads and transport links, yet we are now facing more growth than almost any other part of the United Kingdom.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: “The settlement is due to be announced shortly. This is just speculation.”

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