Home   Kent   News   Article

Kent County Council faces £81m budget shortfall next with more cuts on the way

More than £80m of savings will have to be made next year if the county’s largest local authority is to stave off going bust.

Senior officials at Kent County Council (KCC) have warned of “tough choices” - with job losses and service cuts looming large once more.

County Hall Maidstone
County Hall Maidstone

An estimated £81m budget gap will have to be found as revenues from central government will once again fall well short of what is needed.

KCC has admitted it will also be forced to plunder its reserves in order to cover the cost of statutory obligations such as social care and looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The authority must balance its books by law or face having to issue a section 114 notice and effectively declare bankruptcy.

Cranbrook member Cllr Sean Holden said: “Of course we will have to look at services - I mean, do we need 99 libraries?

“As for jobs, we’d always try natural wastage first and manage it that way but a huge proportion of KCC’s costs does come in salaries.

“What we can’t have is a section 114 notice because the government would appoint commissioners to come in and run the show and they are not particularly discriminating where they cut. They just keep cutting until the numbers add up.”

Cllr Sean Holden, of Kent County Council
Cllr Sean Holden, of Kent County Council

The council said it has had to find more than £1bn in savings and efficiencies in the past 15 years.

A KCC statement said: “Significant spending demands and cost increases, largely for the most vulnerable residents in the areas of adult and children’s social care and home to school transport, continue to squeeze the budget.

“Complex needs, population growth and people living longer are all factors that are contributing to the financial pressures of authorities across the UK as well recent high levels of inflation and significant increases in national living wage in recent years adding pressure on budgets.

“The Government requires local authorities to deliver a balanced budget, which means planned spending must be managed within funding resources available.

“However, taking these actions is not enough and the financial challenge faced in 2025-26, like in previous years, is significant and means difficult policy choices will be needed in February 2025 when the budget comes before the full council.”

Margate county councillor Barry Lewis
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis

KCC will be passing next year’s budget weeks before going to the polls.

The Conservatives won three quarters of all the 80 seats at Sessions House at the last election in 2021, but many now fear it may land into the hands of an opposition rainbow coalition.

KCC Labour spokesman on transport, Cllr Barry Lewis said: “We need a radical programme of change in transport alone.

“We need to think differently. For example, we need to employ the right technology to fix the potholes rather than going back every six months to patch them up.

“On buses, we should connect with other forms of public transport to get cars off the road, create some local revenue and and protect the highways from further damage.”

“As for jobs, we’d always try natural wastage first but a huge proportion of costs come in salaries”

Other backbenchers want to see consultants axed by making better use of in-house expertise.

KCC has called on members of the public to put forward “innovative” suggestions to “prevent a further shift towards reducing statutory services to a level it legally has to provide”.

The consultation exercise ends on August 7.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More