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Kent County Council approves 4% rise in council tax for 2017-18

County councillors have backed a 4% rise in the council tax as part of the authority’s budget which council leader Paul Carter acknowledged was “high risk”.

The spending plans for 2017-18 were approved after a six-hour debate at County Hall.

Opposition parties said the spending plans would leave residents paying more for poorer services.

Thousands of people in Kent struggle to pay their council tax bills: Stock image
Thousands of people in Kent struggle to pay their council tax bills: Stock image

However, there was consensus among all the parties that urgent action was needed to address the dwindling amount of money provided by the government to meet spiralling demand for adult care.

The council is making savings of £18.1m in adult care but that figure would have been higher had it not been for changes in the way care costs have been trimmed through a partnership with consultants Newton Europe.

The debate took place against a backdrop of claims that Surrey County Council had secured a sweetheart deal with the government that had been struck to avoid a 15% council tax hike.

Leader Paul Carter said while he had no knowledge of any deal, it would be inappropriate for that county to have special treatment.

On KCC’s budget, he said the council had a good track record but the government had to address the adult social care crisis.

“We have transformed the way services are delivered, particularly investing in preventative services to avoid escalation and focussed on efficiency to back office processes to maximise the investment in front line service delivery.”

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter (Con)
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter (Con)

Labour said residents were being forced to pay more for less.

“What we have always said about council tax increases is that small increases, provided they are there to protect frontline services, people are happy to pay,” said Labour group leader Cllr Gordon Cowan.

“But the problem here is at Kent County Council year on year, residents have had service cuts.”

UKIP had argued the council tax increase was too high.

Spokesman Brian McDowall said: “We think taxpayers are unfairly taking the burden.

“The government is effectively telling councils to tax in accordance with what they want to do and getting us to do their dirty work for them.”

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