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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Government cuts put County Services at Risk

October 23, 2016 9:43 AM

Trudy Dean Rob BirdLiberal Democrats warn of potential disaster if cuts continue

KCC has taken an unusual step of producing a mid-term 'budget' which outlines some potential cut-backs, including 400 job losses, but provides little detail on the cuts or reassurance for Kent's residents. The report was debated at the Council meeting on 20th October.

KCC is struggling to meet its budget targets this year and the increase in inflation forecast by the Bank of England as a result of the Brexit vote could make it even more difficult to balance the books. Loans raised to pay for building roads and schools will be repaid over longer periods, and the council will deposit some of its reserves with slightly higher risk accounts.

KCC is being forced into a further £80m of cutbacks in 2017-18 on top of the £500m cuts in the previous 6 years. Conservative austerity policies continue to hit council services hard as KCC struggles to cope with rising demand, rising costs, and over £50m being lopped off its Government grant.

The report warns that Kent's Council Tax is set to rise by 3.99% next year. The Government has subsequently advised that councils can increase the Social Care Precept to 3% which would bring the maximum permitted increase up to 4.99% but KCC's Conservative Administration have indicated that they are unlikely to go beyond the 2% pa Precept which they had already planned for the next 3 years.

Trudy Dean, Leader of the KCC Lib Dem Group said, "With this level of redundancies it is clear that front line services will be affected but the report does not tell us where. We have pressed the Administration to provide much more detail about their proposals before the budget is formally adopted in February."

"KCC is being forced to try to do more for less but it is inevitable that residents will lose out - those in greatest need are likely to be hurt the most", added Lib Dem Finance Spokesperson, Rob Bird.

"We are seriously concerned about the £30m savings proposed to social services budgets. Looking at KCC's seven key performance indicators for the care of older and vulnerable Kent residents, just two were improving in the past year, one was flat and four were deteriorating.

"Highways budgets have already been cut to the bone. Other services, such as the Young Persons Travel Pass, will cost more."