The leader of Southend Council has promised the new budget that includes a rise in council tax will help the town’s most vulnerable residents.

The new budget comes into effect from April and will ask families to find an extra £55 a year for council tax to help boost social care with an extra £5.7million of funding.

Council leader Ian Gilbert told councillors the rise in council tax was “inevitable” following a decade of austerity which has seen a Government grant to the council slashed from £64million to just £6million.

“For the first time in ten years the main grant we receive from Government will not be reduced and will rise by the Consumer Price Index, or £100,000,” said Mr Gilbert.

“I have seen in some quarters a suggestion that this should be seen as a reason to celebrate.

“Yet to say the main grant we receive from Government has been decimated in the last ten years would be an understatement.”

The council tax rise means an increase of 73p a week for a Band A home, 82p a week for Band B, 94p for Band C and £1.06 for Band D.

Mr Gilbert added: “We all know that demand on children’s services is growing nationally, and whilst the government is giving us an additional social care grant of £3.4million this year, it does not cover all the pressures we face.”

Also in the budget is a promise of spending more than £9million on buying homes for extra social housing, £5.3million on refurbishing the pier, an extra £1million on resurfacing and repairing potholes and £6.8million on flood defences.

Opposition Conservative councillors proposed a series of amendments ranging from giving a council tax discount to residents who volunteer as special constables and extra funds to finance four extra police officers.

But rather than submit the proposals separately, they were submitted as one forcing councillors to decide on all or none.

In a vote, councillors chose none because several lacked detail and there were concerns that a council tax discount for special constables would mean giving similar discounts to other community volunteers.

But Mr Gilbert came under fire from Tory leader Councillor Tony Cox who mockingly called the budget a “cure for insomnia” and the council leader’s speech as vanilla as “one of Southend’s famous Rossi Ice Creams”.

He said: “The truth is, this is an administration in complete and utter disarray, devoid of any ideas and as proved with this budget, without any coherent strategy. The vast majority of policies for this town that have been agreed by this administration since coming to power have originated from the Conservatives.”

He added: “Southend deserves better than this”.

Long-term council veteran, Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Wrexham hit back at the Tories blaming them for problems in the borough because they had been in administration for many years previously.

“You say you want four extra police officers but who cut them in the first place?” he said.

“I’ve been here long enough to know what went before and this really is a nonsense.”