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Budget Consultation - KCC proposes council tax freeze for the third year running
Its a difficult time at County hall, and in most councils setting their budget. £60 million to be saved. We are launching an eight week consultation on the budget. Below is the press release issued to announce the start. Please do have your say.
Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter is determined to freeze Kent residents' council tax bill for the third year running despite enormous pressure from national spending cuts and rising demand for services.
Launching an eight week public consultation on the county council's 2013 budget proposals, Paul Carter set out the principles that have guided next year's financial proposals:
"It would be the easiest thing to bow to political pressure to leave services unchanged or spend 'more on this and more on that' but that only leads to soaring council tax and poorer services. Time and again, we have demonstrated that if you bring fresh, innovative thinking to how we go about delivering our business – with elected councillors working alongside our experienced staff – you can find new ways to protect services and keep bills low."
The budget proposals launched today place vulnerable people, the young and boosting the Kent economy at the heart of council priorities for the year ahead.
For schools – KCC continues to focus on the wishes of parents and employers to see motivated young people set on the right course for a successful future. Today, we educate more children, and with more success, than ever before. We are committed to delivering the education service that parents want for their children - from investing in new grammar school sites to delivering special needs education in every community.
For employment - we will continue to expand our apprenticeship scheme, driven by £3m of investment, to create real jobs for Kent's young people. These proposals deliver new business loans to create 5,000 jobs and the release of further cash from the Big Society Fund is helping voluntary groups establish new enterprises.
For the vulnerable – Kent is proud to remain one of a dwindling number of local authorities to maintain the eligibility criteria at moderate for adult social care – providing security and stability for thousands of people in need.
For roads and transport – Kent's groundbreaking Freedom Pass will be maintained, enabling young people, aged 11-16, to travel the county's bus network for free. A new scheme for post-16 students will subsidise the cost of travel. Safeguarded too, is Kent's commitment to public transport and the subsidy of bus routes across the county. KCC is proposing to protect the highways maintenance budget and direct more of this money into resurfacing, cutting the need for 'patch' repairs to potholes. (This builds on an extra £6m extra spent on road repairs this year).
Taken together, Paul Carter insists that these proposals are defying the pressure on councils to cut and cut again by setting out on a path of genuine transformation of services:
"It is pointless to pretend that the money will keep rolling in from taxpayers to see the same old services in the same old way. It won't. In almost every area of life people are working differently or using new technology to make things easier. Councils must do that too and I'm proud that Kent is leading the way. Every penny we can save is a penny that remains in the pockets of the people of Kent."
Mr Carter fully admits that tough decisions have to be taken and has set out in clear terms where the council plans to make savings.
"Of course some tough decisions have to be taken. All councils are facing unprecedented cuts to their funding as the Government tackles the national deficit, and that situation isn't going to change in coming years. If we did nothing to tackle our spending, in four years time KCC would require a 42% rise in council tax to keep services running."
Residents across Kent have eight weeks (from Thursday 6 September to Thursday 1 November) to give their views on the proposals, before Members take the final decision on the budget in early 2013.
Anyone can get involved by reading the consultation document 'Framing the budget', which identifies the significant savings that are to be delivered to avoid the need to raise council tax. That document and a response form are available at www.kent.gov.uk/budgetviews Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange