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 email@example.com 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.