Kent County Council consultation on council tax rise to fill £64million shortfall

Universal Credits blamed for mounting debt

Kent County Council is holding a public consultation on a rise in council tax after revealing it has to make £64 million of cuts to the 2017/2018 budget of £933 million.

Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter has warned that big decisions will be needed in almost every area of the council’s activities to deliver the savings and the impact could be felt on frontline services.

A Thanet county council said that at an internal briefing this morning members  were told the cut could mean up to 250 job losses, cuts to bus services, reduced adult care services and the closure or outsourcing of KCC care homes.

The authority has endured significant funding cuts from central Government over the last six years and Cllr Carter has now appealed to Ministers to ease the financial burden.

Pressure

He said: “KCC has been highly successful over the last six to seven years in delivering a whole range of cost reduction measures, enabling public money to support improved front line services to our residents.

“This is against significant additional pressures on demand-led services provided by the council as a result of significant population growth and the need to support a growing proportion of elderly people in the county.”

The cuts have been slammed by Thanet’s Labour Party county councillors.

Cllr Karen Constantine said: “These cuts will really hurt the people of Thanet. People are already complaining about the lack of public transport. In Cliffsend and Pegwell and in Newington locals are struggling with a threadbare bus service. Any further cuts will leave people stranded.

“Also the looming crisis in Education the shortage of places in schools, combined with a secondary school age pupil ‘bulge’ will mean students will not get places and those pupils with additional needs will not get those needs met. I already have several significant situations which I’m trying to resolve. Lack of access to proper education blights lives and is not good for Thanet.

“Kent County Council will be operating on a ‘crisis mode’,  and I urge the Tories to stand up to the own Government who have clearly lost touch with the ordinary person.”

Consultation

The council has now launched a six-week consultation on its proposal to increase council tax to contribute towards the £64 million of savings required. A 1% rise on council tax would raise £6 million.

In addition, the council is proposing to add the 2% social care precept introduced by central government last year.

The consultation asks people in Kent whether they support KCC’s proposals to respond to the financial challenges.

The county council is launching the consultation ahead of the government’s Autumn Budget Statement towards the end of November.

Cllr Carter said: “The difficult decisions we make in next year’s budget will affect everyone in Kent. That’s why it is important that as many residents as possible take part in this year’s consultation.”

Details of the consultation and how to take part can be found at: www.kent.gov.uk/budget