Have your say on the KCC budget

Services residents want to see prioritised, ideas for cost savings and income generation, and future increases in Council Tax are the basis of questions in an eight-week budget consultation launched today (Thursday 13 June) by Kent County Council (KCC).

The setting of the annual KCC budget is once again a challenging process for 2025-26. The estimated budget gap is £81 million and with some of the authority’s reserves having been used to bolster recent years’ budgets, further tough choices will need to be considered.

Since 2011, KCC has had to find almost £1 billion in savings and income generation in order to manage spending within the funding available. This is in the context of a net revenue budget of £943m in 2010-11 compared to a net revenue budget of £1,429m. In other words, spending would have had to increase by £1.5bn over this period to keep pace with rising costs and demands rather than the extra £0.5bn available.

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.

KCC’s funding comes predominately from Council Tax and central government grants. For the last few years, local authorities across the country have lobbied the Government to increase the support given to councils, so they can adequately maintain vital services.

KCC is also closely reviewing all of its operations year-on-year to identify opportunities to save money wherever it can. That has included accelerating the use of digital technology and looking at its premises estate to ensure the right buildings are in the right places to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.

In this year’s budget consultation, residents will be asked their views on an increase in their Council Tax, along with suggestions as to how and where KCC can make cuts in services which are necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the Council.

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. It is essential these choices are informed by responses to this consultation.

KCC welcomes innovative solutions from people living in the county which could help prevent a further shift towards reducing statutory services to a level it legally has to provide.

The priority is to make the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money while focusing on protecting vital services to the most vulnerable people in Kent.

The budget consultation closes on 7 August 2024.

Further information:

To get involved visit: www.kent.gov.uk/budget

If you are unable to take part online, a hard copy of the questionnaire can be requested via our Alternative Formats team. Email: alternativeformats@kent.gov.uk or call 03000 421 553 (text relay service number: 18001 03000 421 553).

This number goes to an answering machine which is monitored during office hours.

Notes to editors

  • KCC is the largest local authority in the country, serving a population of 1.6 million with a gross budget in the region of £2.3 billion (excluding schools) and net budget of £1.4bn after service income and specific grants.
  • The majority of the Council’s day-to-day spending is on Adults and Older People’s Social Care, Children’s Social Care and Transport Services, and these services in particular have been under significant spending pressure over the past two years.