‘Do not cut social care services,’ say Kent residents in county council consultation

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Hundreds of Kent residents have had their say about next year’s potential council spending cuts amid Covid.

Nearly 3,000 people have responded to a consultation about the financial blackhole of up to £143million faced by Kent County Council (KCC) from April 2021 to April 2022.

The gap represents a quarter of the total savings made by County Hall during the austerity years of Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May from 2010 to 2020.

Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), who is KCC’s deputy leader and finance cabinet member, said: “We actually had a fabulous response to the consultation and have a much clearer picture of how residents are thinking.”

Opposition councillors have said the results should be taken with “a pinch of salt” given that Kent’s 12 districts are made up of nearly 1.6 million residents.

Householders were asked what money should be saved in KCC’s budget next year as part of a consultation which ran from October 14 to November 24.

An online presentation analysing the feedback was provided to KCC’s Conservative cabinet yesterday.

The councillors were told that 65% of the 2,985 respondents, more than 80% of whom are classed as Kent residents, would be “uncomfortable” with any cuts to adult and children’s social care services.

Meanwhile, more than 60% of people say they remain “comfortable” or “partly comfortable” with reduced spending on community services, such as libraries and local transport.

Last month, backbench Tory councillors said there would be “no sacred cows” in the budget and did not rule out any potential cuts to KCC’s 99 libraries.

About 51% of respondents gave “modest” support to council tax increases while 44% disagreed with any rises. The remaining 5% were undecided.

But 78% of people were in favour of potential cuts to the large portfolio of buildings owned by County Hall as KCC seeks to deliver more online services.

KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough (Con), of Sevenoaks North and Darent Valley, said: “It is incredibly heartening to see the scale of response and I think it is important we take some clear messages from this.”

At cabinet, Cllr Oakford, of Tunbridge Wells North, later said: “We can now feed this information into the work we are doing about the budget.”

However, KCC Labour group leader Dara Farrell said after the meeting that the results reflected a “sweeping generalisation” of county opinion. The Ashford South member added: “The council has asked people to make a big choice.”

Next year’s draft budget will be published on January 5 which will be closely scrutinised by all 81 county councillors ahead of a decisive vote on February 11.


  1. Regardless of the results, we need more involvement of citizens directly in matters that directly concern them. It is correct that 3000 out 1.6 million is a small sample, but if it were correctly drawn , could be representative. Participatory/Citizens’ Democracy, does that using random sampling, to provide a citizens’ assembly given briefing on the facts, which then provides an authoritative view to government. At least thats what happens in many other countries – why not here?

  2. Labour whinging again. There have to be cuts and everyone was given the chance to respond. Dara Farrell needs not only a covid injection when available , but a rather large injection of reality.

  3. It is not surprising that adult and child social care is at the top of the list, because both have suffered considerably during the pandemic.
    There is also an ageing demographic in Kent and their wishes and requirements will always be well represented.
    I am not sure where this puts KCC.
    KCC has several statutory duties, including Adult and child social care,some on highways, waste disposal etc.
    But we have seen what they have done before.
    Libraries, Public household and amenity waste sites, adult education,bus service support,school transport etc will get cut further, but what will this achieve?
    If you cut away all of it, KCC would still have a deficit and you can only issue a complete cut once, after that what happens?
    Its easy to focus on their allowances and staff pay, but even then it only goes so far. Adult social care is grossly underfunded and its unfair. It puts the greatest burden on those who fall under its wing for the longest and in effect sequestrates all their assets. Others who have few assets or have a condition that is medical and not social do not contribute.
    UK Citizens hold an enormous amount of equity in bricks and mortar.If a small but fair proportion of this capital was given up to adult social care that would go someway to funding this service.Those who wanted to protect their assets completely could take out insurance and undoubtedly the insurance industry would create insurance products.They won’t at the moment because the level of liability is not clear. One it is at say £100,000, then a range of products will be developed.
    The alternative is what is happening now, where equity release is filling the void, because those in their 60’s and 70’s think that they will lose all their assets to funding adult social care.

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