ESSEX County Council has said there will be “renewed focus” on finding ways to transform the council as it faces a budget gap of more than £100million within three years.

Figures indicate the difference between expected expenditure and income to be £24million in 2023/24, which will then increase to £59million the year after and then to £119million in 2025/26.

The warning comes after the announcement that council tax for the county council is set to increase by an average of more than £60 a year in 2022/23.

The council forecasts a funding gap in future years even after delivering all planned savings.

However, this mid-range scenario is likely to change given the context of the Fair Funding Reform for local government from 2023/24.

The county council has said it expects to identify ways to drive “further savings”, including through use of technology and digitisation and to continue to explore the “redesign of services and different ways of working with its partners”.

A report from the council to its cabinet said: “In 2022, there will be renewed focus on looking at further ways to transform the council and identify ways to drive further savings, including through use of technology and digitisation.

“The council must continue to explore the redesign of services and different ways of working with its partners, communities and the voluntary sector to ensure essential services can be provided within the context of increasing demand.

“The realignment of resources to ensure they are focused on the aims set out in Everyone’s Essex will also continue to be a key focus.”

The funding gap was raised as a concern at a meeting of the ruling cabinet with leader of the opposition councillor Chris Pond, and leader of the Labour group councillor Ivan Henderson both asking how it will be filled.

Chris Whitbead, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “If you look at the section 151 officers’ report, it makes it clear that we have plans to address those gaps in the future and we will be bringing to your scrutiny panel some of the plans as we move forward.

“So we’re very much a council about building those firm foundations for the future so that we hand the council over in better condition than it was ten years ago to the next council.