Council Tax to rise after county council approves its budget

Olympian Louis Smith

Kent County Council (KCC) approved a £1.2billion budget following a debate at the Kent Event Centre at Detling rather than County Hall in Maidstone due to social distance guidance in place at KCC. 

Councillors agreed to raise the duty on residents by the maximum permissible in law, which will see Council Tax rise by 2.99 per cent, which includes a 1 per cent ring-fenced Adult Social Care Levy.

For a Band D Council Tax payer this will see bills rise by £43, and comes as after the Police and Crime Commissioner confirmed a £15 a week rise in his share of Council Tax and a week before Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is set to vote on whether to hike its Council Tax portion next week (February 23).

The combined rises mean by April, some of the highest band residents in Tunbridge Wells could see their bills exceed £3,000 a year for the first time.

KCC approved its budget last week by 46 votes to 16, with four abstentions.

The £1.2billion plan for 2022/2023 includes £484million ringfenced for adult social care and health services, £52million for roads, improving communities and digital connectivity, £270million for helping young people, and £5million for tackling climate change.


Roger Gough

“The spending pressures we face are severe. We have huge demands, especially in adult social care, as we come out of the pandemic and successive lockdowns, and more and more people come into our services with more complex needs,” stated KCC Leader Roger Gough.

He acknowledged the squeeze on residents with the announced Council tax rise as well as an intended rise to bus passes, saying: “I have no wish to be raising Council Tax, or the cost of the Kent Travel Saver, at a time of pressure on living standards.

“But evidence of stress in our sector is all around us. And we know what happens when councils don’t face reality and lose control – financial failure means service failure too.

“Now is the time to take the decisions that set us on an even keel.”

Summing up, Mr Gough said: “The commitments we make in this budget are not the end, but a down payment on what we aim to do over the coming years.

Some amendments to the proposed budget focused on easing the burden for the vulnerable, for example, although the Council approved an £80 increase to the Kent Travel Saver, it was decided not to increase the cost for children on free school meals.

KCC has also allocated £1.7billion for capital works – spending on large infrastructure projects – over the next decade.

But the budget hearing heard how the authority has also seen the cost of services rise by £84million.

Peter Oakford, KCC deputy leader, head of finance and Cllr for Tunbridge Wells North, has appealed for government help.

He said: “Despite an increase in government funding for the new financial year, the stark reality is that it is simply not enough.

“The current economic situation – rising inflation and soaring energy prices – has increased the cost of providing key services.

“While at the same time, central government contributions over the last decade have fallen by a total £750million.”


By Victoria Roberts

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