By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A 4.99% rise in council tax from April has been proposed by Kent County Council (KCC).
Maidstone County Hall is planning its budget for the next financial year and faces “unprecedented” pressures caused by the coronavirus crisis.
To help balance the budget, the county’s 1.58 million residents could be asked to fork out £37million to prevent cuts to frontline services, notably social care.
It means that contentious private talks about chopping some of the county’s 99 libraries and dozens of children centres have been “taken off the table”.
KCC’s 81 councillors will vote on the potential council tax rise in four weeks’ time.
KCC’s deputy leader Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), who is also the finance cabinet member, said it was with “great reluctance” that the tax bill would need to increase by the maximum amount of 5%.
He said: “That is always a difficult decision because we do understand the pressure that our residents are under at this moment.
“We understand that people are losing jobs and the economic challenges but we have to balance off whether we increase the council tax or cut services.”
It means the annual KCC council tax bill could increase by £60 for a band C home, rising from £1,200 to £1,260.
For Band D households, the growth equates to around £67.50. This does not include money paid to the police, parish, town, district and borough councils or the fire service.
However low-income households can claim discounts, such as 25% off the council tax bill for people living on their own.
Opposition groups say the proposed tax hike is “disappointing” and have called for more cash support from Boris Johnson’s Government.
KCC’s Green party leader, Cllr Martin Whybrow, said: “The 5% increase will be a blow to many struggling Kent households and we know that Covid has exacerbated inequality.”
KCC’s Labour group leader, Cllr Dara Farrell, added: “It will be unforgivable for the costs of Covid to be placed on the shoulders of Kentish taxpayers, while the government wastes billions on failed programmes such as test and trace.”
KCC’s Tory administration say they have “balanced the budget” for the next financial year, which was initially forecast to be up to £143m. This will be met through government grants, savings and council tax rises.
However, County Hall chiefs will remain “flexible” over any potential emergency budget changes caused by future Covid lockdowns, Brexit border disruption or increasing demand to provide help for asylum-seekers.
KCC’s leader Cllr Roger Gough (Con) described the council’s financial planning as “prudent” but warned that County Hall could not rely on more Whitehall aid.
He said: “There is a really difficult balance to strike. We realise the pressure that residents are under and these are very, very hard times.
“In many ways our leaning would be against this significantly. Any decision a council makes not to make the 5% increase will not be offset by any degree of compensatory financial support from Government.”
What does the money that goes to KCC pay for?
- 84 children’s centres and early years services
- Supporting 1,600 children in care and 1,700 care leavers
- Fostering, adoption and 10,000-plus social work cases
- Working with 583 schools on places, planning and access
- Special educational needs and disability including transport
- Apprenticeships, skills and career pathways for young people
- Public health and wellbeing services
- Sports, arts, culture and heritage
- Highways, waste management and concessionary travel
- Active travel, public rights of way and country parks
- 99 libraries, mobile libraries and archives
- Community safety, emergency planning and trading standards
- Registration and coroners’ services
- Economic development and strategic planning
- Support for 4,900 adults with learning disabilities
- 4,100 permanent residential care placements
- Support for 3,200 social care clients with mental health needs
- Support for 1,200 older people in nursing care homes
- 7,000 people receiving care and support at home
- Support for 5,300 adults with physical disability and sensory needs
- 2,400 people using day care services in their community
What happens next?
Kent’s county councillors will vote on the proposals during a virtual meeting of KCC’s full council on Thursday, February 11 from 9.30am.
Will there be pay rises for the fat cats I wonder?
Must be joking people are loosing there jobs and the council are getting richer selling off plots of land to developer’s with backhanders while the council cannot even collect bins and tidy the rams gate town up ….
HIGHWAYS, I thought this was why we paid road fund licence?
That’s not correct. People with cars pay road tax based on how polluting their vehicles are. This is to make up for the damage they cause to other people’s health, carbon emissions and the noise they generate. In other words – the negative impacts of vehicles. Cleaner vehicles and electric cars pay almost no tax.
Highway maintenance is separate and paid for by councils.
Highways haven’t been paid for by road tax since Churchill took it for the war effort.
2 and a half % should be enough for all that.
KCC is very lapse in most things they do… have been for 20 odd years.
Certainly not worth the proposed 5%.
Kent Highways is responsible for roads other then M2A2 M20 A20.not local councils the monies to councils come through KCC.
Maybe the big cats should take a pay cut as its not like they do there jobs properly or effectively and are well over paid! That would balance the books nicely!
Most public sector staff are on low pay and haven’t had a pay rise in ten years for Christ’s sake. It’s a tiny minority on big pay.
You clearly have know idea what talking about and need to do your research! As I said the BIG CATS get paid well over £100,000 a year plus get extra benefits on top and for what? The services the council does have reduced. There mates in other sectors get the work and paid over the odds and then they try to cover it up by saying “we have spent over £2 million on the area”!!
David please don’t confuse TDC with KCC. Completely different councils.
The box! I havent confused tdc with kcc! Maybe learn to to do your research! Chief executive Madeline Homer received a salary of £133,771, plus ‘cash benefits’ of £5,000 making a total £138,771 not including pension contributions of £20,966.
Director of Corporate Resources Tim Willis received a salary of £98,245 plus £4,000 ‘cash benefits’ totalling £102,245 not including pension contributions of £15,156.
Director of Corporate Governance Tim Howes received £97,173 plus ‘cash benefits’ of 4,000 totalling £101,173 not including pension contributions of £15,156.
Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite received £90,648 plus ‘cash benefits’ of £4,000 totalling £94,648 not including pension contributions of £14,225.
The total top officers’ salary bill for 2017/18, excluding pension payments but including Mr Kenyon’s compensation, came to £558, 771.
Generous salaries are also paid for three roles within East Kent Services. Councillor allowances for the year came to £365,000.
Maybe they should get rid of councillors and the sham schemes that they play that waste tax payers funds.
Another example, giving councillors unnecessary “pay/expenses rises” during a pandemic when people are losing jobs, only for a particular councillor (Lewis) to then donate tax payers money to charity after accepting the rise without question.
How about KCC sort out your internal affairs first before causing unnecessary burden on tax payers again.
A 5% rise? Surely the Brexit dividend will take care of it.
This is just not fair. Year in year out keep pushing up the council tax and for less and less services It cannot go on, pushing the normal law bidding tax paying house owner to the limit.
Dont know how this council has got the cheek to charge such a high rate its not only their gross pay rises but all the immigrants we are paying for and a service that is way under parr.