Because of the financial challenges Kent County Council (KCC) is facing, savings are having to be made across the authority. As it responds to these challenges, it is even more important that KCC (and indeed all public services) manage spending within the finances available, otherwise the budget will become unsustainable and threaten the viability of the services provided.
As set out in the 2023/24 budget, which continues to face significant pressures, the Community Warden service has been asked to reduce its annual budget by £1 million by 2024/25.
To meet this, the proposal, which includes a reduction in warden numbers, has been developed with information from service users and input from staff and partners to maintain the broad scope and strengths of the service.
As part of a redesign, data would also be used to identify the communities which would benefit most from having a warden. This includes areas of deprivation, a high elderly population and isolated and rural locations. Other factors such as proximity to services and public transport changes would also be taken into consideration.
Under these proposals, wardens would still be based in all 12 districts across Kent, with a minimum team size and further wardens placed in teams that cover districts with the highest need.
Wardens would also continue with their proactive work, helping people connect with services they might otherwise have difficulty accessing, feeding into the work of partner organisations including Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, district, borough, town and parish councils, schools, health providers and community groups. as well as supporting communities in emergencies.
Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services Mike Hill said: “We are keen to hear residents’ views on the proposals and how they would affect them.
“To achieve this level of saving, we are proposing to redesign the service with a core small team of wardens covering two district authority areas per warden team, with additional warden presence allocated to areas of highest need.
“This proposal is in no way a reflection on their performance. The successful community-based approach would be retained, and it is essential that the proposed new structure is scalable so that, if resources become available, we could look again at its provision.
“Setting this year’s budget was the most challenging it has ever been, due to increasing demands on KCC services and the cost of providing them. We have to set a balanced budget and are having to make some extremely tough decisions in order to continue to provide the most vital services within the financial resources available.”
How to have your say
Before any decisions are made, KCC wants to hear your views on:
- How the proposed reductions and approach to allocating wardens could impact you
- Any additional information that you think we need to consider
- Any alternative suggestions for how the service could make the savings.
- The assumptions we have made in the draft Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA).
Visit kent.gov.uk/communitywardenreview and complete the online questionnaire.
This consultation will run for 12 weeks from 12 July until 3 October 2023.
Paper copies of the consultation material are available. To request these, or if you have any questions about this consultation, please email: CommunityWardenReview@kent.gov.uk
Telephone: 03000 42 26 88 (this number goes to an answer machine which is monitored during office hours).
Easy Read and Large Print versions of this document are available from KCC’s website or on request.
Consultation material is available in an alternative format or language. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 03000 42 15 53 (text relay service 18001 03000 42 15 53). This number goes to an answer machine, which is monitored during office hours.
What happens next?
The responses to the consultation will be analysed and result in a consultation report. This report will be published on the consultation webpage and presented at a meeting of the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee in January 2024 for consideration and recommendation.
Following this meeting a decision is expected to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services. Details of the decision will be published on the consultation webpage. Any changes to warden allocations would most likely take effect in Spring 2024.