Kent Residents forced to pay for Tory Government Austerity
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council
Kent residents will suffer increased council tax bills next year as the County Council is set to increase its council tax charge by 4.99%. This means an increase of £52.32 pa for a Band C homeowner. The Government is cutting its funding of the County Council by another £46.4 million. Meanwhile the County Council's Conservative Cabinet is struggling with increased demand for crucial services and cost pressures.
Despite additional council tax revenue from increased housing , KCC is planning savings of £53.4 million largely through service cuts and increased charges. Further staff cuts are planned saving £6.4 million and putting further pressure on KCC's beleaguered workforce. £8.2 million of the planned cuts have not yet been specified.
The Conservatives have stepped back from their earlier proposals to cut bus subsidies by £2 million in 2018-19. These cuts are now likely to be about £0.5 million in the coming year but will be largely offset by improved funding for local on-demand services provided through parish councils and community groups. KCC has given no indication of how much bus subsidies will be cut in the following year.
KCC is also being forced to provide funding for new schools and school extensions to ensure sufficient school places as the Government is failing to deliver its free schools building programme.
Commenting on KCC's draft budget Rob Bird, Leader of the Opposition, said: "Once again, the council tax payer is having to compensate for the Government's disdain for local government services. Paul Carter states that he has pleaded with his Conservative colleagues in Westminster for more funding. However, it is clear that they weren't listening or didn't care.
"Kent's bus users will be relieved that there should be few cuts to subsidised services next year but the threat is still there for the following years. As always, it will be the most needy and the most vulnerable who will bear the brunt of service cuts.
"It is sad to see County Council staff and the front line services they provide being hit with further cuts, particularly in the wake of the Conservative councillors voting themselves an unprecedented 15% pay increase."