Published: 00:00, 12 October 2017
| Updated: 15:44, 12 October 2017
Council taxpayers are likely to face another hike in their bills with a 4% increase on the cards under proposals put forward by Kent County Council today.
The authority says it is facing a cash crisis and has warned that there may have to be cuts in frontline services as it struggles to balance the books.
The council’s leader Paul Carter said cuts were an “inevitable consequence” if the government failed to bail it out. It has told the government that it needs an additional £20m this year and the next to help cushion the impact on top of £64m savings.
Mr Carter said he was appealing to the government to provide more money.
If it did not, then the council would have to cut back on services that it has in previous years protected.
“If we don’t a modest form of help, we will have to stop delivering or reducing the quality of services. We have delivered enormous savings but the elastic is at breaking point. Unless we can get an additional £20m before the government introduces a new funding method, we are going to reduce services.”
The council is beginning a six-week consultation on its draft budget, which sets out the need to find a further £64m savings - part of which would be met by the inflation-breaking tax hike.
A 4% increase would push average Band D bills up to about £1,091 from £1,047 last year.
Each 1% increase generates about £6m for the authority but despite that, council chiefs say they would still need to save £64m.
A sign of the pressure the council is under came last month when finance chiefs revealed this year’s budget was already overspent by £18m.
A report by finance chiefs have described it as "one of the riskiest budgets the council has faced."
Since 2010, the council has seen government funding cut by £221m at the same time as it has faced a steadily increasing demand for services, costing it an additional £387m.
The government denied it had cut funding. A DCLG spokesman said:
“We’ve provided councils across England with more than £200 billion and the certainty to plan ahead through our four-year funding settlement. Funding is allocated taking into account the needs and resources of each local authority.
“Kent County Council’s core spending power is actually increasing by 4.7% over this five year spending period. As a result they will have available £4.5 billion in funding up to 2020.”
Details of the consultation and how to have your say are at www.kent.gov.uk
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