Kent County Council has launched a public consultation on its annual budget proposals, asking people if they would find a rise in council tax acceptable and whether the authority is focusing on the right services.
The authority has a responsibility to provide services for about 1.5million people in the county. It spends some £1.5 billion each year.
The Government has announced a one-year settlement for 2020-21, which includes some additional funding for social care services and assumes modest council tax increases/
However, there is forecast to be a budget gap in 2020-21 of between £18million and £22million.
The Government sets a maximum limit for council tax increases (without holding a referendum) and KCC expect the limit for next year to be just under 2%.
This increase would add £23.04 per year (or 44 pence per week) to the KCC element of the bill for a typical band C property and take the total KCC element of council tax to £1,178.08 (or £22.60 per week). This increase would raise £14.3m towards the council’s rising costs.
In 2016, the Government introduced a Social Care Levy, which allows councils with adult social care responsibilities such as KCC to raise extra council tax in return for a guarantee to spend it only on those services. KCC is proposing to levy a 2% social care increase in 2020-21.
This would raise a further additional £14.3m to be spent on adult social care services and increase the KCC element for a band C property by a further £23.04 (or 44 pence per week).
The proposals would mean a total 4% rise on the county council share of the precept. Police, fire and rescue, the district council and town and parish councils also issue council tax charges.
KCC has made savings of about £657million since 2010.
The consultation document outlines the council’s three key objectives for the next financial year, beginning in April 2020. These priorities for spending are:
- Helping children and young people in Kent get the best start in life.
- Helping Kent communities benefit from economic growth by being in-work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life.
- Helping keep older and vulnerable residents safe and supported with choices to live independently.
The purpose of the consultation is to ask for residents’ views on two key issues:
- Is a modest rise in council tax acceptable if it helps to sustain the services you most value?
- Is KCC focussing on the right priorities as it plans for the future of its many services?
Details of the consultation and on how to take part can be found at: www.kent.gov.uk/budget.
Residents who do not have personal access to a computer can visit their local library and complete the questionnaire online there either through one of our free public access computers or if they have their own device by using the free public Wi-Fi.
For hard copies and alternative formats of the consultation material, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03000 421553 (voice). For Text Relay, please use 18001 03000 421553. This number goes to an answer machine which is monitored during office hours.
Would there be an option in the phoney consultation to “change the Westminster government to one that does not spend every year in Office reducing the amount of money available to Kent County Council”? I don’t expect so.
Without that option, the “consultation” is false. It assumes that there will always be a Tory government in London, so more money will be removed from public services, and there will always be a Tory majority in Maidstone to carry on pretending there is no other option.
We don’t have to accept this. We CAN vote for something else. If we don’t, who are we going to blame when the Library closes, when the residential home closes, when the police station closes, when many young people don’t even know what a “Youth Club” is, when the pot hole takes out our wheel, when the bus route disappears? Hint: the European Union has no role in any of these policies, so try again.
If we don’t pay for services, we don’t get them. Bizarrely, central government won’t allow us to pay for them. This government is in favour of “small government”, which is a euphemism for a free for all for private enterprise.
So stand by fir more cuts to libraries, bus services, school resources, police, fire fighters …
Kent County Council would like to present their attempt to pick people’s pockets as “necessary” to maintain “vital services”. The reality is it is nothing of the kind. KCC haemorrhages money through wasteful programmes. Look no further than their 2018/19 grant payments. Over 10 million pounds in total, including dozens of “Arts Investment Fund” payment, and other such vanity projects.
One of the most egregious examples of waste can be found in the £86k that KCC contributed to the cost of a new minibus for Tenterden Social Club. Anyone want to tell me how they even managed to find a minibus that cost that much money? And who on earth signed that purchase off?
There’s plenty of fat that could be trimmed to balance KCC’s budget without taking a penny away from core services or raising taxpayer’s bills.