Massive budget savings of £86m must be found by Kent County Council to balance books

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Massive budget savings must be found by Kent County Council (KCC) to balance the books in the next year – with many services facing the axe.

More than £86 million in economies need to be identified at a time of squeezed budgets and soaring costs.

By law, KCC has to maintain statutory services, such as social care and education, so the spotlight is likely to fall on areas regarded as discretionary.

The county’s community wardens are the latest to feel the pinch as the service’s £2.4m budget faces a £1m cut.

Other areas such as children’s centres and libraries may be vulnerable, as will KCC’s workers.

The council has already indicated that four household rubbish tips will need to shut in order to realise £1.5m in savings.

In a detailed and “challenging” report to be considered by KCC members on Thursday, auditor Grant Thornton lays bare the authority’s predicament.

The London-based firm states: “Steps need to be taken by the council to control expenditure. The council will need to be realistic about the capacity available to support delivery of the savings.

“The administration will need to prioritise and consult and will need to be able to communicate how and what it prioritised.

“Some very difficult decisions will need to be made by the ruling administration to reduce expenditure and in some cases withdraw or pare back existing services.”

The report adds: “The council has reported a significant forecast overspend in 2022-23 that is likely to impact on its financial resilience.

“The overspend…is likely to affect the council’s ability to continue to deliver the services currently provided or to the same level in future years.”

Cllr Neil Baker, the Conservative chairman of the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee, said: “The auditor’s report makes for very challenging reading.

“We cannot pretend that it is all roses and sunny uplands but what the auditor does is put it out there that we have to make tough decisions and we’re not hiding from it, in the way that other authorities have.

“As for what may have to go, we are not in a position to rule anything in or out.”

As for statutory services, one key area of major concern is Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), having posted an overspend of tens of millions of pounds at a time when demand is rising.

The Kent Community Warden Service (KCWS) faces losing staff in a bid to shave £1m from its £2.4m budget.

It currently employs 70 staff who will go into a 12-week consultation from Wednesday, July 12.

A KCC document states: “The KCWS had a budget of approximately £2.4m (2022/23). As the majority of the budget is staffing costs, there will need to be staff reductions to achieve the proposed savings.”

The £1m saving would be over two years.

Cllr Baker added: “The wardens do a brilliant job and we have to consider what it might cost us as an authority of not having them.”

One of Grant Thornton’s judgements states: “In the absence of additional government funding, which is unlikely in the current economic climate, difficult decisions about reduced spending will be necessary in the near term.

“Effective consultation and communication with residents about how and what the ruling administration prioritises will be necessary.”


  1. Well tell KCC stop wasting it on stupid things , also all top KCC staff to take a wage cut plus stop all bonuses every year .

    • Exactly. But Also County Hall Must be Worth a Fortune! And selling it to be converted or redeveloped would help to solve some of the Housing Shortages. The Staff that is left after the Savage Cuts could be lodged at District Councils!
      As for the County Councillors, they can use Halls or Community Centres for their Meetings and if the Meetings were held in a Different District each Time, that would even out Traveling Expenses!

  2. Ok the obvious is to cut the top pay earners, and building unneeded train stations etc.

    But there comes a point when the Tories will bring this country to its knees. We arent far away from that.
    You cant keep cutting cutting and cutting whilst the well of just keep getting richer and richer and richer

  3. TDC could start by stricter enforcement of rule infringements on beaches, such as no dogs, no barbecues etc. If not, just do away with them, & save on signage, wardens etc.

  4. Tories spent £35 million on a railway station which has NO staff NO booking office NO shops NO bus connection NO live security and probably NO customers given unlike other stations which have a half hour service it will only have a hour ly service,

  5. The Tory’s hate public spending of any sort, unless the money can find its way into the pockets of their business friends! Yes, we are descending into 3rd world status as well judging by the state of our roads and pavements, although most 3rd world countries would be ashamed to have roads and pavements like ours! Cuts, cuts, cuts, its been proved that people in countries that have good public services are happier, pity I don’t speak Swedish or any other Scandinavian languages, and its too late to learn!

  6. IIf they can’t balance the books get out so someone else can do it as it’s our money. Also over 2 million in the last year on KCC member’s expenses. Millions on unnecessary train stations and millions spent constantly on op Brock. Millions wasted time and time again and for nothing to show or help the people who pay. What ever party is in they are all much of the same with the same result.

    • Over 2 million in the last year on KCC member’s expenses ???

      Councillors allowances and expenses 2022/23


    • It is down to Government cuts, who ever takes over with a Tory Government still in office there won’t be anymore money!!

  7. What have they over spent ON and WHY please provide a list to the council tax payers obviously you have the facts and figures and the names of your employees who signed off the overspend.

  8. The rot set in following the banks’ crash in 2008. This was caused by the failure of governments to regulate banks properly, resulting in a catastrophic failure of institutions “too big to fail” – so our money was used to prop them up.
    This has lead to more than a decade of “austerity” (during which the rich have got richer, and the poor even poorer). Central government has cut and cut the central support grant, at the same time making it nigh impossible for local authorities to put rates up by more than few %. Meanwhile, demands on services have grown and grown leading to the situation that KCC (and dozens of other local authorities) now face.

  9. I see Karen Constantine has spent the highest amount on food, looking at the KCC exspenses website, not surprising.

  10. The most alarming figures in the Expences spreadsheet are £6000 for public transport, and £35000 milage (eg car).
    We’re in a climate catastrophe, with dangerous global warming causing drugs, floods, forest fires and hurricanes around the globe.
    Shouldn’t our councillors be setting an example? Shouldn’t the figures be the other way round, with 6 times as much being spent on public transport as cars??

  11. I now travel by train but because of the opening of thanet parkway, thereis now NO through train from thanet to Maidstone meaning a 60 minute journey is now 90 minutes compared to a 55 minute car journey.also car milage is 45p a mile which equates to £40 cost from thanet compared to only £27 cost for the council when i use the train.

    • ‘There is now no through train from Thanet to Maidstone’? Really in the 16 years between 2006 and 2022 when on a number of occasions I worked in Maidstone and used the train there was never a through train from Ramsgate to Maidstone East I always had to change at Ashford International! Appreciate if you can confirm the direct route and stations served when this service operated.

      • Last year there were direct trains from minster/ramsgate stations every morning to Maidstone east. Derek crow brown kcc member for minster area is trying to reinstate the route

        • Thank you for this. Thankfully I had given up on Thanet and moved away by early last year. Personally I don’t think there would be much call for a direct train to Maidstone but still still that’s only my humble view. Maybe you and Karen Constantine can car share when there is a meeting that you are both to attend?

  12. I think everyone is missing the point.
    Even if KCC Cllrs received nothing for their time and expenses it would not balance the budget.
    Yes,they have too many vanity projects,but that comes from the capital part of the budget,this however is to do with the revenue budget or KCC’s current account.I wish Grant Thornton and others here would stop saying that the budget is unbalanced because that it is not so.KCC has balanced the budget by taking the shortfall from the reserves,but you cannot do that forever.
    Cutting services in a n ad-hoc way as proposed here and elsewhere is not the way to resolve the problems.
    Most of the fault lays with central government who have cut back expenditure on local govt and now we have a massive problem with social care.
    The answer is to restructure local govt,devolve assets,cash and services to 3 unitary councils east,west and Medway & estuary.
    They in turn should devolve assets down to local councils.
    To provide adult social care cash implement Dilnot.
    Some solutions for everyone to consider.

    • There is a bias towards spending money in west kent over east kent for example NO west kent tips are threatened with closure. Unitary authorities are the answer with the added bonus of getting rid of thanet would mean less councillors , less buildings,less staff and more local decisions.medway unitary is more efficient than kcc

      • A Unitary Council would see all Councils, for example Canterbury, Dover & TDC involved, merged. A vote several years ago was voted down by them all. The draft proposals issued were laughable.

  13. How about KCC growing some guts and refusing to hand over all the ‘Council Tax’ to central Government?
    It is Central that insisted on all these extra thousands of homes to pay MORE council tax while at the same time they want to cut OUR services to lower standards.
    Third World countries are never treated this badly…. Central Government gives all OUR money to them for whatever poverty advert is on TV at the time. It is clear that we should ensure our stability and sanity and futureproof the country internally…. Tell HM.Gov to wait for a while as the people need it more than they do…

  14. Tory KCC mismanagement, simple as that. Same as the current governments mishandling of the UK economy. Vote them out.

  15. The question to ask is “What are the legal minimum requirements of service to council tax payers”? Then cut everything else including KCC staff completely, when our workes scream, the answer should be You want it you pay for it.

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