Kent County Council today launches a public consultation on its annual budget proposals.
The document outlines the council’s three key objectives for the next financial year, beginning in April 2020.
These priorities for spending are:
- Helping children and young people in Kent get the best start in life.
- Helping Kent communities benefit from economic growth by being in-work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life.
- Helping keep older and vulnerable residents safe and supported with choices to live independently.
KCC has a responsibility to provide a wide range of services for its population of about 1.5 million.
To provide these services it spends over £1.5 billion each year.
The Government has announced a one-year settlement for 2020-21, which includes some additional government funding for social care services and assumes modest council tax increases.
KCC is pleased that the amount of money it will have in the next financial year is increasing, and this was announced earlier than previous years to help our planning, but this one-year settlement means that the future remains uncertain.
Most importantly the funding the council receives is still unlikely not to keep pace with the additional costs and demand for our services. Taken together, this means there is forecast to be a budget gap in 2020-21 of between £18 million and £22 million.
However, KCC has a proven track record of balancing the budget each year and has saved about £657 million since 2010.
The Government sets a maximum limit for council tax increases (without holding a referendum) and we expect the limit for next year will be just under 2%.
This increase would add £23.04 per year (or 44 pence per week) to the KCC element of the bill for a typical band C property and take the total KCC element of council tax to £1,178.08 (or £22.60 per week).
This increase would raise £14.3m towards the council’s rising costs.
In 2016, the Government introduced a Social Care Levy, which allows councils with adult social care responsibilities such as KCC to raise extra council tax in return for a guarantee to spend it only on those services.
Since KCC already has a commitment to provide the best possible services for the most vulnerable people in society, it is proposing to levy a 2% social care increase in 2020-21.
This would raise a further additional £14.3m to be spent on adult social care services and increase the KCC element for a band C property by a further £23.04 (or 44 pence per week).
The purpose of the consultation is to ask for residents’ views on two key issues:
- Is a modest rise in council tax acceptable if it helps to sustain the services you most value?
- Is KCC focussing on the right priorities as it plans for the future of its many services?
Details of the consultation and on how to take part can be found at: www.kent.gov.uk/budget.
Residents who do not have personal access to a computer can visit their local library and complete the questionnaire online there either through one of our free public access computers or if they have their own device by using the free public Wi-Fi.
For hard copies and alternative formats of the consultation material, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03000 421553 (voice).
For Text Relay, please use 18001 03000 421553. This number goes to an answer machine which is monitored during office hours.