Kent County Council agrees 2021-22 budget – including 5% council tax rise

KCC County Hall

Kent County councillors have today (February 11) voted through the authority’s spending plans for 2021-22 – including a ‘regrettable but unavoidable’ 1.99% rise in general council tax, and 3% ring-fenced to meet increased spending on adult social care.

The proposals were accepted at a virtual meeting of the full county council with 55 for, 12 against and 2 abstentions.

During today’s Budget meeting an amendment to the formal budget recommendations, proposed and seconded by Antony Hook and Ida Linfield of the Liberal Democrat Group was approved, following their acceptance of a slight change to the wording suggested by the Leader of the Council.

The successful amendment stated that council tax is an ‘appalling method of raising taxation’, takes no account of ability to pay and is ‘outdated.’  As a result of the amendment, an additional recommendation was added asking the Leader to write to the Secretary of State to request appropriate reviews of council tax banding.

Financial support

As part of the budget plans KCC has also proposed a package of extra financial support and funding for Kent’s lowest income families. This will include an automatic £50 reduction on the council tax bill of anyone currently receiving a discount. There are now over 65,000 families eligible for this scheme, compared to 56,000 a year ago.

It is also proposed to give every district council funding for their Council Tax hardship fund, which will allow families just above the very lowest income bracket to apply for extra financial support.

The Helping Hand Scheme will also provide help to just-managing families with utility bills, firms struggling to stay afloat, digital poverty and supporting crowdfunded projects to get communities back on their feet.

The council tax increase, which equates to £67.50 a year (£1.30 a week) for Band D households, is to meet budget pressures predicted in the next financial year due to the pandemic and to meet extra spending pressures in social care. Council tax is now 70% of the income the authority relies on to pay for services.

The authority is having to increase its adult social care budget by £40.1m, taking the total adults social care budget to £437.5m this year, and COVID-19 has triggered increased care needs, and risks to care services in the coming year.

‘No choice’

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Peter Oakford, said: “As a council we understand the impact of this pandemic on our residents. It has caused uncertainty, anxiety, furlough and job losses. It has impacted finances, home schooling and of course the cruel loss of our loved ones.

“I do not want to be in the position I am today, where I sit before you proposing a council tax increase. However, in order for KCC to continue to deliver vital services, I have no choice.

“Residents clearly told us in their feedback to the budget consultation that we should prioritise social care services. Therefore, we are proposing an increase of 3% specifically to fund the increase in demand and costs for Adult Social Care services.

“In total this means an increase of 5% in council tax, which reflects the stark reality of the position we are in. Reduced income and increased demand for our services.

“Kent County Council cannot ignore the national picture and wider economy when making our budget plans. We are in a position where 50% of business rates are now retained locally rather than pooled and redistributed through a needs-led formula, and the cost of council tax support is the responsibility of local councils.

“Since 2013/14 KCC’s core revenue support grant from central Government has reduced from around £247m to approximately £10m, which means increasingly core local authority services have to be funded by council tax.”

The council will be spending around £1.132bn on day-to-day services, which equates to about £720 for every person living in the county. This is an increase of £68.8m (6.5%) on the approved budget for 2020-21 an extra £41 for every person.

It originally intended to add £9.2million to its reserves to cover off the risks relating to adult social care services and children’s services, as well as the huge uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

However, since it produced its draft budget the council has revised its plans to take account of the third national lockdown which has meant taking out £1.8 million of the reserves instead.

Changes include an anticipated £5million rise in prices for adult social care, another £5million for increased social care demand and removing a £3million saving on pothole repairs due to less government funding for highways.

‘Complex and challenging’

KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “This has been for me, and I am sure for many members, the most complex and challenging budget to set in any of our memories.

“It is, of course, always much tougher to deliver savings after so many years of austerity, and the £40m that we have presented, chiefly in savings, represents an exacting process and should be seen in this light.

“The budget ultimately reflects the impact of COVID-19 and comes after a year of huge one-off expenditures related to the pandemic. And the question is what will be the long-term impact?

“As we come out of lockdown the risks and pressures on our services and spending increase. Greater complexity in needs of people in care, pressures on mental health, domestic abuse; and the children who were out of sight of public agencies, when so many fewer were in school, are now likely to come back to our services in increased numbers and with increased needs.

“We have had significant support from government this year, which we have lobbied hard for. But, if we look ahead, we see a lot of government restraint over the years to come, as it seeks to rebuild its finances after COVID-19.”

Kent has received about £140million from the government to cover additional spending incurred and income losses to date due to the impact of the pandemic.

Councillor declares ‘Kent taxpayers are being treated like a cash machine’ in precept hike row


  1. People on low incomes and the poor still shouldering austerity. The Council Tax system has been unfair from the start. The moderately well-off saving hundreds indeed thousands of pounds per year. It does nothing again for the single often elderly who can’t afford to downsize or are limited to the choice of suitable smaller properties to meet the needs of increasing infirmity.
    We continue to suffer and dare I say put up with it! As for punishing the population for the Tory Governments hideous neglect of people who need social care, they should be utterly ashamed!

  2. Extract from the TaxPayers Alliance(which often goes to far but is a watchdog for getting value for money)
    Cut council tax

    Council tax is a major drain on the bank balances of many households. Ratepayers all over Britain constantly have to pay inflation busting rises every year. Our research has shown that on average between 1997 and 2017, council tax increased by 57 per cent in real terms across England. At least in England rises in council tax are capped (usually to around 4 to 5 per cent) but this is not the case in Wales, where many councils have imposed double-digit rises on their residents.

    The TaxPayers’ Alliance has long campaigned against these rises and our research reveals that many councils still have plenty of fat left to trim from their budgets. Be it mayoral cars, bloated press departments and business class flights, to name just a few, local authorities are not managing taxpayers’ money wisely.

    Our 2018 report, Twenty Years of Council Tax, showed that between 1997 and 2017, council tax in England had increased by 57 per cent in real terms.

    We regularly visit towns and cities from Plymouth to Powys, Aberdeen to Ashford to hold councils to account. In Powys the council wanted to impose an astronomical rise of 12 per cent in council tax. Combining the resources of our research, media and grassroots teams we were able to force the council to reconsider their plans. The rise was confined to single digits and Band D households saved just over £36 per year.

    There is still more to be done though, many councils continue to blame central government funding cuts and plead poverty whilst remunerating failing chief executives with gold plated pay packets. We will continue to expose wasteful spending by councils. Longer term, we are calling on politicians to consider a new funding model for local authorities, as we have laid out our landmark publication The Single Income Tax.

    Please email us if you are fed up with inflation busting rises and want the TaxPayers’ Alliance to campaign in your area.

  3. It’s all very well asking for council taxes to be cut the councils don’t do what they are supposed to do now without giving them the extra excuse to not do even more. We see the damage that Cameron and Osborn did when they used the council tax freeze to to win votes. We all paid for it in the by lack of services and dirty streets. Be careful what you wish for.

  4. Council tax up again why do they keep putting it up. we do not get a better service from this council tax hike in fact they are cutting services left right and center so we are paying more for less where’s the logic in that enough is enough as the council say let’s sort it out well I suggest they do before they have a lot of people on the streets because they can’t afford this hated tax

    • some locals are reliant on food banks, others are on the breadline but fail to qualify for squat in the way of help. That £1.30 could be the straw that broke the camels back for some people in this area. Not everyone can be so flippant with what you consider to be small change

      • But for most people £1.30 is small change. Will the council make no allowance for people who genuinely cannot find this small extra charge?

  5. Just like central government, local government just knows how to spend money and both like to bring in ever more rules and regulations , whilst not actually earning any money for the things they buy, they also don’t want any responsibility for anything that goes wrong. Local politics is ruled by political idealists totally detached from economic reality. Plus there are never ending calls for the poor / underprivileged/ diasadvantaged to pay less ( even though they recieve prportionately far more) whilst at the same time there are demands for more.
    TDC is in a dreadful financial state and yet our leaders past, current and no doubt future will still insist on rushing through pet projects with no thought as to the costs, to try and balance the books they’ll keep disposing of anything that can raise tuppence , at some point we’ll have nothing left at which point the problems really start.
    The on going silence as to the Dreamland deal is just a prime example of the double standards of politics , previous objections now seemingly forgotten once the reins changed hands. Charlatans everyone of them of every hue.

    • LC – very very well said. Just look at local politicians and pet projects funded by taxpayers. I totally agree with all you have said.

    • even the selling off of property assets is a fraud, as TDC makes the local parish’s buy them as they are allowed to increase precepts as much as they like.So in other words, we are forced to buy them through our Parish precepts. Parish council precepts in Thanet have gone up by over 300% in the last years, shocking corruption fraud.

  6. Council Tax is definitely contentious. We – the council tax payer always are paying more – BUT getting less for our hard earned money.
    It goes against the natural law of business, paying more for less is not the sort of business model Conservative Governments and councils should be doing!!

  7. I moved from Orpington to Thanet 5 years ago. Currently the council tax in the London Borough of Bromley for a property in Band E is £1951.69 a year compared with an annual charge of £2347.00 in Thanet. I have to say as well as the rates being lower in Bromley, it was better value for money. It included free travel on buses and trains for the over 60s. The streets we cleaner due to the Clean and Green approach which included leaves being regularly cleared from the pavements during the Autumn. It Bromley can do it, why can’t Thanet?

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