SCHEMES to create jobs have been decimated after Basildon Council slashed its economic development budget.

Labour’s deputy leader David Burton-Sampson claims no new projects to help Basildon “survive and prosper” have been planned after the UK leaves the European Union.

He was speaking after it was revealed the budget for 2019 will be just £28,000, down from £189,000 this year.

The budget funds initiatives to create employment opportunities and develop skills.

He said: “This really worries me. We are saying that in the year we are leaving the EU there is nothing specific that is going into this budget that is going to help this borough either to prosper or ride the storm that is going to come as a result of leaving.

“I am deeply concerned there are no projects or innovation or whatever it may be built into this budget to help this borough economically grow.

“I will encourage my councillors not to vote for this budget because we should be looking at more money applied to this particular area.”

A working group will be set up to work on one area, supporting High Street retailers, experiencing “its biggest change it has ever gone through”, according to Councillor Burton-Sampson.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “We shouldn’t be cutting such an important service area.

“This is about driving growth in the borough, we need growth so we can create jobs that bring opportunities to residents.

“The danger of going into a year with nothing in place is that it will have a knock-on effect and potentially lead to a loss of jobs.”

The council will produce a report on the potential impact of Brexit in March.

Councillor Andrew Schrader, Chairman of the Economic Development and Growth Committee, said: “While negotiations are still underway, we understand that local businesses will need to prepare for the challenges and opportunities leaving the EU may present to trade and export.

"This is why we are in the process of producing a specialist research report to support businesses and identify specific needs, which will be available from March this year.

"The council will also continue to work in partnership with the Essex Chamber of Commerce, Invest Essex and neighbouring local authorities to support businesses in taking advantage of the opportunities to access new markets and to promote growth and investment in the borough.

“The supplies and services budget for the Economic Development and Growth Committee in 2018/19 included one-off initiatives such as the Go Trade project, for which funding will be reclaimed from the EU, the Pathways to Success Panel and the Advice Store.

"These are currently being delivered and will continue until at least 2019/20, paving the way for existing resources to be used in a more focused way to support residents and businesses."

He added: "We have laid the foundations to reduce any negative effects of Brexit and will also take advantage of the opportunities new technology presents to gain improved knowledge.”

Projects to help the area in the past have included Go Trade for market traders to access tailor made business support.

Also Your Future, an exhibition, which attracted more than 50 businesses and more than 500 young people keen to explore opportunities. It is not yet clear which projects can continue.