Published: 11:53, 25 September 2017
The leader of Kent County Council has delivered a stark warning that key frontline services could be cut next year as the authority strives to balance the books.
Cllr Paul Carter (Con) said he would be appealing directly to ministers to draw a line under its austerity programme, saying more money had to be found for the council otherwise services that had previously been protected would be cut.
He said the government should consider funding county councils in two-tier areas at least to the level of county unitaries, which received extra cash for new homes built in their area.
In Kent, that money goes to districts and boroughs.
And he warned that rising inflation would add to the pressure as contractors would look to pass on that increase to the council.
KCC is having to slice £73m from its budget this year and a similar amount next year. It is already overspent by £18m this year.
"The consequences for next year’s budget are really very significant" - Paul Carter
Cllr Carter told a meeting of KCC’s cabinet today: "The consequences for next year’s budget are really very significant.
"So far we have always been able to say that we have protected frontline services but there is a worry whether we will be able to do that next year.”
“I have enormous concerns about the impact next year. The elastic is being stretched to breaking point. There will be a day of reckoning if this continues.”
“I have written to all our MPs setting out the consequences of next year’s budget on public services.
"I hope we can make a case to government to reflect on what they give unitary authorities and give county councils some relief.”
Despite a cash injection for adult social care of £2bn by the government announced in the spring budget, KCC says that its share over two years will still fall short of what it needs to cope with rising demand.
KCC’s financial plight led one Conservative cabinet member to urge the council to be upfront with voters about what was in store.
Cllr Matthew Balfour, cabinet member for highways, said: “We need to be much more blatant with the people of Kent about where these cuts may fall. It would be wrong to mislead people of Kent.”
More by this authorPaul Francis