Residents urged to respond to KCC Budget consultation

October 26, 2017

Residents across the county are urged to respond to Kent County Council’s budget consultation. With yet more sweeping cuts to councils’ Revenue Support Grants, the likelihood is that KCC will have some extremely difficult decisions to make about which front-line services will suffer. More job losses are on the way and the consultation also points to potential cuts in areas such as bus subsidies (around three per cent of Kent’s bus services are deemed to be uneconomic, so are subsidised by the council), children centres and the end of KCC operating its remaining in-house older persons residential homes and day centres.

The link to the consultation is here  and the deadline for submissions is 3rd December.

Our Green Party KCC member, Martin Whybrow (left), called central government’s failure to listen to “wake-up all after wake-up call” an “appalling dereliction of duty” at this month’s full council meeting. Austerity doesn’t work as it stifles economic growth, reduces tax income and creates huge additional costs, both from a monetary and society perspective. He particularly called out the stupidity of cutting preventative services, such as drug and alcohol services, as there is irrefutable evidence that these save more in the long-term than they cost, even putting aside the moral arguments of providing adequate help to people when they most need it.

Martin pointed out that front-line service cuts to date have often hit the most vulnerable and those with least voice; the next cuts will impact a wider demographic. For vulnerable residents, there is also potentially on the way the devastating effects of Universal Credit, with the pilots for this showing that it brings debt and misery to many people. Rising inflation amidst stagnant wages and precarious work arrangements (zero hour contracts etc) is also having an effect on living standards.

In Kent, increasing demand combined with the reduction in funding is a “double-whammy”, bringing severe pressure on aspects such as school places, and adult and children’s social care. As with other members, Martin explained that a lot of the time he has to explain that there is no hope for things that “in a properly functioning society” would be perfectly reasonable requests, such as a pedestrian crossing outside a school, better bus services to reduce isolation, and roads that are not crumbling,

Interestingly, the Tory leader of KCC, Paul Carter, has also been vocal in recent weeks about the cliff-edge that many councils now find themselves on. At the same time, as Martin pointed out, the decision by the ruling Tory party on KCC to award members a 15 per cent increase in allowances in September has, for many residents, taken a lot of the wind out of Mr Carter’s arguments. And he questioned whether anyone is “this dysfunctional government” was actually listening to local government, amidst the “battle to survive, the Brexit chaos and the infighting”.

 

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