By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
An emergency budget has been put forward by Kent County Council (KCC) due to the impact of the Covid crisis.
The £1 billion spending budget is being reviewed due to increased council costs and loss of key income sources, such as business rates, at County Hall.
Around £12 million of “savings” will be delivered, including a reduction in the amount paid to councillors for their grants.
KCC’s full council will discuss the economic situation during a virtual public meeting next week.
A KCC report published to the 81 members states: “This amendment to the budget is necessary as a result of the unprecedented changes to the council’s revenue spending plans and income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout.”
An “informal” meeting has been held between councillors in advance of the council session.
Originally, a shortfall of £50m was predicted in the county council’s £116 million Covid budget, such as bulk purchases of personal protective equipment (PPE), but much was recovered through government cash aid. But a funding gap remains and it is unclear if service cuts could be on the cards. Council tax could also rise.
The dossier published jointly by KCC leader Roger Gough (Con) and KCC deputy leader Peter Oakford (Con) expands on this.
It states: “The future is highly uncertain. The combination of higher spending and lower income we potentially face could present a much greater threat to the council’s financial viability than the challenge we have faced over the last 10 years through austerity.”
However, the two Conservative elected members reiterate that a ‘bankruptcy’ Section 114 notice is unlikely at this stage, with council reserves of just under £40m deemed adequate. This action has not been ruled out in the future.
The KCC report adds: “The approval of an amended balanced budget would mean that there is no immediate risk of a requirement to consider a Section 114 notice at this stage although this needs to be kept under constant review as plans for 2021-22 and later years are developed.”
County councillors will convene in seven days’ time to discuss the emergency budget proposal at the crunch virtual meeting from 10am.
Could save 5.8 million by not build that white elephant of a train station at cliffsend
Confused.. exactly. Consecutive day opposite statements… unnecessary spend one day.. oh dear we haven’t got any money the next, makes no sense at all.
If the top level gave up their salary for the month, they’d more than cover the deficit.
Why not send the illegal immigrants back, that would save a large lump, not having to pay those five star hotel costs.
Scrap the ridiculous Thanet station, saving even more.
Could save a lot of money if it wasn’t wasted by sleepy Barry Lewis for him then to donate it to charity! Same with other councilors!
What a farce, the entire KCC needs a review and independent investigation into their finances. Doesn’t matter what party is running the council.
The Box is back.
Here we go again, with the sleepy Barry Lewis comments, because you can’t think of anything constructive to say.
It has become very tiresome with the continual sleepy Barry comments.
I am surprised, that legal proceedings have not yet been issued against you.
Phil, i dont mind the box trolling me, as he highlights what i am doing. To criticise me for giving some of my allowances to food banks etc. Says more about his politics than mine. I will still give to charities as many millions of people do
Do what you like, just get someone to de_weed the gutters, sometimes it’s like parking in a bush
This whole matter is very serious. The amounts involved absolutely dwarf the small amounts(by comparison) that are spent on councillors expenses,or the equally small amounts spent on accommodation for asylum seekers (NOT 5-star hotels or anything like it. I once visited an asylum seeker in his “room” in Cliftonville. To use an old joke, it was so small that I put the key in the door and broke the window!)
Even the daft idea of paying part of the cost of a new railway station for Thanet, so that private rail companies can make more money, doesn’t really involve significant sums.
The problem is that, for ten years, central government has pursued an “austerity” strategy and has been reducing the amount of money distributed to local councils, Kent included.
KCC finances were in dire straits as a result—and then along came Covid19.
Huge amounts of money have to be found and central government is slow to admit that it needs to change tack.
A difficult dilemma but people wittering on about “illegal immigrants in 5-star hotels” or “councillors expenses” either miss the point or are deliberately trying to blame the weakest people in the country(asylum seekers) or are trying to divert blame from the Westminster government onto local councillors who are disposable when trying to protect Boris Johnson’s back.
Keefogs, I understand your points, which are valid, and local, and county councils were struggling before the virus took hold, but the illegal migrants do add to those expenses, it can’t be hidden, however large or small the sum may be.
You’re right as usual, Keefogs.
Well stated. Immigrants and station are small fry. Tory austerity is the main problem but blind Tory supporters always blame immigrants for every thing. Get a life you daft Tory voters and see the damage your support is doing to this country.
Joe Soap or Joe Bloggs?
Kcc need to understand “value for money”
Their (our) money will goso much further if they adopt the vfm principles,also they are a large employer.
Maybe offer voluntary redundancy to the least productive staff and immediately end under supervised working from home.
So easy for Kcc to deal with the ongoing problem.
Others will disagree.
I think better managers and supervisors with organisational skills are required that will save a fortune