Council tax to rise after county council approves budget

Council tax will rise by almost 3% from April, pushing up bills by at least £43 for most residents, following a vote on Thursday February 10.

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

Councilors have agreed to increase the resident’s obligation by the maximum allowed by law, which will lead to a 2.99% council tax increase, which includes a 1% social care tax for adults.

For a Band D taxpayer, it will see bills rise by £43, and comes after the Police and Crime Commissioner confirmed a £15-a-week rise in his council tax share and a week ahead of the Tunbridge Wells City Council vote. on whether to increase its council tax share next week (February 23).

The combined increases mean that in April some of Tunbridge Wells’ highest group residents could see their bills top £3,000 a year for the first time.

KCC approved its budget last week by a vote of 46 to 16, with four abstentions.

The £1.2bn plan for 2022/2023 includes £484m earmarked for social care and adult health services, £52m for roads, community improvements and digital connectivity , £270m to help young people and £5m to tackle climate change.

Roger Gough

“The spending pressures we face are severe. We have huge demands, particularly in adult social care, as we emerge from the pandemic and successive closures, and more and more people are coming to our services with more complex needs,” the chief said. of the KCC, Roger Gough.

He acknowledged the pressure on residents with the announced council tax increase as well as a planned increase in bus passes, saying, “I don’t want to raise the council tax, or the cost of Kent Travel Saver, at a time of pressure on standard of living.

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

“Now is the time to make the decisions that put us on the right track.”

In summary, 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 next few years.

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

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

But the budget hearing heard how the authority also saw the cost of services rise by £84m.

Peter Oakford, Deputy Chief of KCC, Head of Finance and Cllr of Tunbridge Wells North, has appealed for government assistance.

He said: “Despite an increase in government funding for the new financial year, the harsh 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 past decade have fallen by a total of £750m.”

By Victoria Roberts

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