Surrey County Council (SCC) voted to raise council tax by 2.99 per cent today (February 5). 

In total, 54 councillors voted for the budget and 2.99 per cent council tax rise, with 17 against and 3 abstentions. 

Severe financial pressures known to have afflicted SCC for several years influenced the vote.

Other proposed measures to remedy the financial situation, including highly controversial plans to close 31 children's centres across the county, were debated ahead of the vote. 

Council Leader Tim Oliver said SCC had used £80 million from its reserves since 2014 to supplement its budget.

He said the council had been left with "no choice" but to raise the council tax by 2.99 per cent.

In his speech at Surrey County Hall, Cllr Oliver said: "In truth we have not done enough in the past to ensure our finances are sustainable and this is now a major piece of work. But I am determined we will put this councils' finances on a solid footing as quickly as possible."

He added that the decision to increase council tax, which will generate £680.1 million in funding, was not one any member had "any pleasure in making".  

Cllr Oliver said: "It gives neither me or anyone any pleasure in making this recommendation. Particularly as Surrey residents pay some of the highest council tax in the country."

The rise means an extra 81p a week for a Band D property, with the total bill rising to £1,453.50. The adult social care precept will remain at £102.39.

The total revenue budget for Surrey will be £885.9 million.

The council leader also defended the planned children's centre closures. 

Cllr Oliver said: “I know there has been widespread concern about the children centres, but the truth is that the proposals approved will help us better target the support to the most vulnerable and those most in need.”