- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: News
This year due to continuing Conservative Government austerity the Conservative Administration at KCC has to find an additional £86.6m to balance the budget, through cut and additional fees and charges.
It is clear that these cuts to our public services are a choice. If HM Government over the last 13 years had only increased council funding in line with inflation since 2010, we would have had an additional £820 million to spend. This means that Kent has been short changed once again like all of local government and is relying on the local council tax payer to meet the increased financial demand and receive a smaller service in return.
So the Labour Group at Kent County Council are clear. This is a choice. These cuts are a choice and we know there is a different way, an alternative way of doing things at Kent. This is why we have produced a fully funded and legally sound budget that meets the needs of the residents of Kent in the best way we can given the financial situation the Conservative Government has left KCC in.
Here are just some of the key changes we are proposing:
- We know families are feeling the bite of the cost of living crisis so this year we are freezing the price increase of the Kent Travel Bus ticket at £450/year. And then, based on our alternative budget we would be able to reduce the price to £120/year next year. The Conservative Administration are looking to raise the cost of the Kent travel saver to an estimated price to families over £600 per bus ticket this year.
- We have declared that we will no longer be a “Commissioning” or privatisation Council. To start this journey we will be setting up a LatCo (Local Government Company) for adult social care to bring these companies back in house and be the bridge between those being discharged from hospital and caring for people in their homes. This will be funded by investing the overheads and profits these private companies make from the taxpayer back into these essential frontline and caring services.
- Our children have suffered during the pandemic so we have fully funded a programme investing £4million over 3 years to introduce a play service for 5 to 11-year-olds where they can learn to play again and build their emotional resilience, which will reduce the demand for additional support in later years. Our children and young people are suffering from poor mental health and there are increased diagnoses of special educational needs. Prevention and early intervention are key.
- For young people we are investing a further £4 million over three years in a youth service where young people can have positive diversionary activities and youth provision taking them off the streets and preventing anti-social behaviour and crime.
- Having listened to local residents reduce the senior management wage bill at KCC and streamline the management saving an estimated £1.7m over two years which we will invest in frontline services such as our children centres, day centres for the elderly, new transport for Kent bus deal and many more.
- And instead of preserving a costly old building at Sessions House in Maidstone we will close this down and instead save our children centres and community buildings that the Conservatives are proposing to cut.
This is in stark difference to the Conservatives at KCC. This is about choices and this Conservative Budget along with the national economic mess HM Government has left the country in with high inflation, high energy costs and continuing austerity shows that they can no longer claim to be the party of economic or fiscal competence. The KCC Conservative Administration is choosing to:
- Increasing the Kent Travel Saver to over £600 per person
- Keep giving taxpayers money to private companies with their overheads and profit rather than investing this directly into services
- Reviewing and reducing the opening times of the Waste and Recycling Centres (tips) over the long term
- Cutting Community Wardens
- Keep their offices and Sessions House rather than children centres and community buildings
- Retain senior management at its current level
- Keep paying expensive consultants for work that is every day rather than specialist one off.
- Cutting our children centres and youth work provision even further
There is a choice. The Labour Group published its Alternative Budget which again is fully costed and legally sound during the meeting (as this was leaked to the Conservative Administration in advance last year so there is no trust) and on our website https://www.kentlabour.org.uk/kent-labour-alternative-budget-2023-24 and via our social media @kentlabour
Media contact – Dr Lauren Sullivan – Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group KCC – [email protected] 07976 808809