Protest as Kent County Council set to approve cost-cutting budget
by political editor Paul Francis
County councillors will vote today on a £94million package
of savings and further job cuts as Kent County Council seeks to
balance its books.
The ruling Conservative administration will say its budget will
safeguard key services - but will face opposition
claims the savings will hit vulnerable young children and the
One main area of controversy will be an £18m cut to the adult
The council is expected to rubber stamp a freeze on council tax
bills, meaning average bills for KCC's share of the bill will stay
at £1,047 for homes in Band D.
KCC had planned to save £60m, but that rose to £94m after the
government announced it was cutting the level of grants to town
halls by even more than anticipated.
Unions are expected to stage a protest outside Maidstone's
County Hall ahead of the day-long meeting after being told a
further 100 redundancies will be needed.
KCC is in the third year of a programme to shed 1,500 posts to
cope with the government's austerity drive.
The council will also be dipping into its reserves to the tune
of £9m - so-called "rainy day" money - to cushion the impact of the
fresh round of savings.
Spending on children's services will also be cut by £5.3m but
that would be offset by additional investment into the service.
And a range of other cuts will hit funding for the arts, school
sports and music.
These include a cut in the annual grant to the Turner
Contemporary of £100,000, to £1m; £225,000 less for keeping public
footpaths clear and a £200,000 reduction in the budget for sports
In addition, academy schools will be charged for support and
courses run by the authority which they have previously not had to
pay for. That will raise nearly £400,000.
A recruitment freeze on community wardens will save KCC
£280,000, while Kent Music faces a £200,000 cut in its budget to
support school music.
Follow the budget debate with our political editor Paul Francis
on Twitter throughout the day @PaulOnPolitics.
Use the hashtag #kccbudget if you want to join in the
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