Kent County Council Leader blames ‘steep’ cuts as council tax rises by 5%

Kent County Council budget voted through despite dismay at council tax increase

The Leader of Kent County Council [KCC] has attacked his own Conservative government for cutting local authority grants.

Cllr Paul Carter hit-out at ‘steep cuts’ in a BBC Radio 4 interview last week, days after KCC raised council tax by an average 5 per cent.

His comments follow Northamptonshire County Council banning all new spending, with a leader describing the situation as ‘grave’.

Speaking on The World at One programme, Tory MP Bob Blackman told presenter Martha Kearney on Thursday [February 8] that county councils could do more in becoming financially efficient without raising tax.

In response Cllr Carter, who is also Chairman of the County Councils’ Network, said he ‘couldn’t disagree more’ with Mr Blackman’s comments.

“Local government generally has delivered the greatest efficiencies in the past seven to eight years of any part of the public sector,” said Cllr Carter.

“County councils have had the steepest revenue cuts of all.

“Kent County Council, along with many other authorities, is delivering the same services it did five or six years ago with 30 per cent less money.”

The Times reported last month that KCC was planning a council tax rise that will see Band D properties in Tunbridge Wells go up by 4.89 per cent to £80.15 a year.

Mr Blackman suggested such moves would be less necessary if authorities were prepared to dig into their reserve funds.

Cllr Carter said: “We have always had modest reserves, we have been able to preserve those.

“There is a lot of rubbish talked about reserves held by local government.”

“We pay right and appropriate salaries to all of our staff, including our senior management,” he added.

“[I would say to ministers] give us all the transitional help you can, we have just got £150million announced for adult social care pressures.”

Labour county councillor Karen Constantine commented: “KCC has around £200 million in reserves, presumably for a rainy day.

“I’d advise Paul Carter and my Tory counterparts to look out of their windows now. It raining hard and some people have no shelter.

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