Call for county council’s business rates windfall to be reinvested in youth services

County Councillor Barry Lewis says the money should be used to restore cut services such as youth provision

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Kent County Council (KCC) has received a windfall worth millions from the government – sparking calls for lost youth services to be reinstated.

Rates rebates to KCC will amount to nearly £6m but the real figure will settle at £1.6m as much of the money had already been drawn from reserves.

The details of the cash boost are laid out in papers to next week’s cabinet meeting.

Labour councillor Barry Lewis, who represents Margate at KCC, claimed the money should be used to restore services due to be cut to save cash.

The windfall of £5.9m came from three business rates pots and special grants.

But Conservative-run KCC, which faced a 2024-25 budget deficit of £80m in the face of falling government funding and rising costs, had already borrowed £4.3m from a contingency fund to help balance the books.

The entire windfall will be sunk into reserves ahead of another anticipated tough year.

The money did not come through in time for the council’s budget which was finalised on February 19.

Cllr Lewis said: “KCC has closed a load of youth services all over the county to bring in the family hubs model. They should reinstate that funding, if they have got the extra money.

“It’s a total false economy to lose those services – it will cost us all a lot more in the longer run. But the Tories won’t listen – they never do.”

Critics agreed that pulling funding for a host of youth-based facilities could harm young people’s mental health and even drive them into gang crime.

But deputy cabinet member for finance Cllr Harry Rayner said: “I note Mr Lewis’s comments but KCC has to show prudent budget management.”

The documents for next week’s meeting say: “The changes set out in this report are as a result of late announcements which could not have been known at the time budget papers for county council were prepared.

“Some of these late announcements have become common in recent years. We will be undertaking a review during 2024 of the processes surrounding late but necessary changes to the final budget to ensure that it aligns with the formal executive decision process.”

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6 Comments

  1. Barry Lewis is clearly correct that these monies should be used to salvage some of the youth service decimated by the Tories. Keeping kids from getting into serious trouble is a “no-brainer” but will the gerontocracy in Maidstone see this. If not, County Council elections are only a year away!

  2. What a joker Cllr Ranyer is he says “ But deputy cabinet member for finance Cllr Harry Rayner said: “I note Mr Lewis’s comments but KCC has to show prudent budget management.”

    Oh by the way folks did I tell you I’ve got us into £80 million of debt. “prudent”????? He needs to go to SpecSavers so he can see where the noughts go.

  3. This money wouldn’t even touch the sides to repair all the potholes in Thanet, and make the roads and pavements safe!

  4. Those who are repair the pot holes need to take photos of before and after to show they have put the tarmac in and rolled it flat.
    I witnessed in Broadstairs a truck stopped passenger gets out throws a couple of spade-fulls into the pothole he gets back in the truck and drives off no marking it flat, so the following vehicles just drove through the tarmac and lifted out on their tyres. Ridiculous.

    • Yes – but that way, the private contractor perpetuates its business by continually charging for refilling the same holes time and time again !

      Due to all the staffing cuts, there is no Highways Inspector to check the quality of the work before the bill is paid.

      In the ”olden days”, each town had somebody on the road to log the issues and get them resolved. Then it was all transferred to KCC to save money. Then the works were all contracted out to save even more money.

      And we are left with the mess that we are now in – but what has happened to all the money that has been saved ? ? ?

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