£50m budget blackhole faced by Kent County Council over next 12 months

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

A £50million black hole in a council’s budget over the next 12 months has led to fears of tax rises.

Kent County Council (KCC) is facing a high debt of around £50.6million by June 2023, which is likely to increase further amid the global inflationary crisis and major energy bills hike.

The deficit is around five times higher than projections made in September 2021 – which was closer to £10million – with fears from opposition groups it may lead to taxes raised to the “maximum”.

KCC’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), described the excess spending as an “extremely serious cause for concern” at a County Hall meeting last week.

The Tunbridge Wells member has lobbied for immediate action to reduce the deficit. Cllr Oakford said: “This is probably the most challenging forecast the council has seen in recent years.

“Some urgent and very difficult decisions will need to be taken to address this.”

Opposition groups, including the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, have described the financial position as “abysmal” and “ominous”.

The “most significant” risk to KCC’s budget will be to support special educational needs pupils (SEND), it was revealed at last Thursday’s (Sep 29) cabinet meeting at Maidstone County Hall.

This has been forecast to increase by £47m over the next 12 months, from £101m in June 2022 to £148m in June 2023.

Other high-spend areas include education and adult social care. Around 50% of KCC’s total reserves is being allocated to cover the growing costs.

Green Party leader Paul Stepto described the situation as “ominous” as he has called for more government financial aid, fearing that council tax could be raised “to the maximum”.

After the cabinet meeting, he added: “The main action I would like to see at KCC is to lobby central government to give us more money.

“The government gave around £340m in 2015/16 and this year has been going down to £197m.”

KCC opposition leader Anthony Hook, of the Lib Dems, says proposed solutions must be presented to KCC’s full council as soon as possible.

He said: “The council has to save frontline services, such as adult social care and children’s services.

“The cost of materials is shooting up, particularly affecting the highways department, such as bricks, stone, metal, gravel and sand.”

He added: “We can make tweaks, but this will result in cuts to frontline services. Carers and vulnerable children will lose out.”

Rising costs for the county council have come following the coronavirus pandemic and global inflation crisis and energy supply crisis amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

KCC leader Roger Gough (Con) later warned that the pressures continue to grow for the county council.

He said: “This gives us a great deal of work to do in the coming weeks and months to bring this back in line.”

Cllr Oakford added: “Urgent action is required to reduce the overspend to mitigate this pressure.

“The current challenges, unless mitigated, will require close to 50% of our total reserves at the end of this financial year.”


  1. Then put the taxes up.
    Plenty of people have quite enough money to enjoy foreign holidays. I’m sure they can afford a few % more on their taxes.

    • Phyllis, this is about paying our money to Tory businesses, thats why Truss wanted to cut what they pay in tax from 45% to 40%! They want the rich to get richer, which means the poor will have to get poorer! Welfare Benefit cuts will come soon, thats for sure! All in the name of Tory orthodoxy, the so called “trickle Down” effect! Countries that have a “Trickle Up” effect, when the poor are given more money to spend, are happier, and public services are better!

  2. Why don’t the people in charge of the council try to reduce the amount they are paid, they don’t need such big salaries.

    • We all do indeed know where the money goes. The information is publically available. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about education, transport, highways, public health and so on.

  3. Most of local Councils’ money comes from central government NOT from local Council tax payers.
    So if central government has huge debts caused by, say, Covid measures, or Brexit, or supporting Ukraine by boycotting cheap gas and oil, or by cutting the taxes of very rich people, they have to reduce the amount they give to our local Councils.
    So the local Council has to increase the amount they charge us.
    They have been doing this for years , mostly without any resistance from the voters who, in Kent, have carried on returning the same Party to run KCC and the same Party to run central government. So why should they re think their behaviour? They continue to be rewarded by getting elected every time.

  4. How much money is the endless stream of cross-channel migrants costing KCC? Whatever one’s opinion on the rights and wrongs, surely they should be urging the government for other counties to take their share?

    • When we were part of the EU, under the Dublin Protocol the UK could (and did) send such folk back to France or Belgium or wherever.
      Now we’ve left the EU, and taken control of our borders, we can’t do that any more.
      If you look at KCC’s website, you’ll see that more than 50% of our taxes are spent on Older People and Children’s Services.

      • Andrew, do you know that under the Dublin agreement more asylum seekers were sent to the UK than were actually transferred out out of the UK.

        The Dublin Regulation inflow to the UK in the year 2018 was nearly six times the outflow. As the Home Office noted in February 2019: “There were 1,215 transfers into the UK under the Dublin Regulation. The majority (946) of these transfers came from Greece. There were just 209 transfers out of the UK under the Dublin Regulation. A quarter of these (51) were transfers to France.”

        Next time you quote the benefits of the Dublin agreement and asylum removal perhaps you might want to actually look at the figures as it had zero impact whatsoever.

    • You said exactly what I am thinking , how many thousand did we take in last year , times the amount it costs be it in housing , nhs , keeping them etc . Billions .
      No doubt a few may moan and to those , pay your taxes to keep them.

      • According to Andrew Mitchell Tory MP, when he was International Development Secretary in my newspaper of 20th April this year, 87% of those seeking asylum who come here after crossing the Channel in inappropriate small boats, are from “war torn Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or repressive Iran”, so are eligible for Refugee status!

      • Even if that is true, surely they should be shared with other counties? Of course, NO party is going to make that their policy, as it would be a big vote loser (apart from those in Kent!).

  5. So why have they wasted £50 million on building Thanet parkway station, which is a whole 60 seconds from Ramsgate mainline station.

  6. As the World Economic Forum says, ‘you will own nothing and be happy.’ The lockstep approach of nations across the world over covid and lockdowns has pretty much led to global bankruptcy, plus the destruction of many businesses, and much money printing and inflation galore. Let alone enormous profits for PPE newbie companies and big pharma. Of course it’s not going to end well for local governments near the bottom of the food chain. They don’t care about them. Time to look at it all, wake up and look how to organise differently without any of the tainted political parties with puppet leaders and empty words.

    • As i’ve said elsewhere the whole “ you’ll own nothing and be happy” mantra , can be viewed another way. People choose to take on credit to buy stuff on contracts and leases etc because it means they can have everything that makes them happy now rather than having to delay gratification and saving to own outright. So people are actively choosing to own nothing in order to be “happy” . Hardly some evil plan by the global elite. Just people who can’t resist the opportunity to build a pretence of a wealthy lifestyle.

      • My late grandmother came from a very poor working class background, but refused to have anything on credit – no Hire Purchase, no Mail Order catalogues, no nothing (I tried to persuade her to buy a TV on HP instead of renting for decades, but she wouldn’t have it). Quite sensible really.

        • An attitude that was still commonplace in my parents generation, along with making things last , getting stuff repaired rather than using it as an excuse to get new. Clothes lasted years and not bought for one night out. Etc etc. Amazingly enough the same generations were able to buy a house , all a matter of priorities. Whereas today there seems to be entitlement to everything with no personal sacrifice.

  7. Andrew, it’s a lot cheaper to send them to Rwanda in the long run. No social care bills no housing costs no NHS costs No schooling costs, no policing costs etc

    I personally have no problem with legitimate asylum claims but unfortunately most are now people simply seeking a better standard of living and not genuine asylum seekers.

  8. Difficult times lead to difficult decisions.

    Block the gold plated pension scheme to new entrants. Honour it for existing staff but place all new staff on a normal private pension.

    It will save cash from year one and save a bucket full in future years.

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  10. Could it possibly be the over staffed middle management level that seems expand relentlessly whilst cutting services?
    Could it possibly be KCC have services the vast majority of tax payers don’t want.

    Feel free to add to the list.

  11. Council needs to cut the cloth to suite the purse put people in charge that can control the purse strings or make them accountable.

  12. re Antifa , we are not Racists News as you put it , what we are is concerned about our area and our own families , its not up to us to sponsor the rest of the world , and give out handouts to allcomers , wake up = people have had enough of it.

    • People have had enough of racists, I agree. Funny how you had to justify yourself. If you were worried about your area and your family you would do something about the Tories, or UKIP, which have been ruining it for a couple of decades. The cost to your pocket of the last 12 years of Tories is thousands of times larger than ‘The Migrants’, but lots here prefer to focus on the latter and let Kwasi and Lizzie ruin their pension.

      Sure, you are worried about the area and your family…

  13. If the public could foresee this black hole coming then surely the highly paid staff at KCC should have, but just insisted on wasting £££ millions on the Parkway station in the middle of nowhere with Ramsgate a stone throw away. It’s pathetic the incompetence of people working within our regional and local Council offices who get things wrong over and over again. Sack them and replace with monkeys !

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