Council leaders are warning that further cuts to the already-stretched services supporting Kent’s residents are going to be extremely challenging and hit hard

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Home Breaking Council leaders are warning that further cuts to the already-stretched services supporting Kent’s residents are going to be extremely challenging and hit hard

Council leaders are warning that further cuts to the already-stretched services supporting Kent’s residents are going to be extremely challenging and hit hard

A sobering message from the cabinet at Kent County Council (KCC) who are
focused on securing a future level of services while clawing back a
significant budget deficit as the shadow of further economic squeezes loom.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

The warning comes as the County Councils Network (CCN), of which KCC is a
member, has this week written to the Treasury to say that the prospect of
funding reductions on top of soaring inflation would be ‘unthinkable and
devastating’ for services across the country and be ‘worse than austerity’.
It says a bare minimum approach under those circumstances could be the only
option for some councils to stave off bankruptcy.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

*Peter Oakford, KCC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate
and Traded Services (pictured right),* said: “We cannot doubt the gravity
of this financial situation and there is a clear picture of the causes,
above all the surge of inflation coupled with the increasing demand on
services, especially social care.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

“We have been acutely aware that post-pandemic spending would be tight and
local government would feature further down on the priority list.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

“We know the Chancellor has some very difficult decisions to make and we
look to him and Michael Gove, back as Secretary of State for Levelling Up,
Housing and Communities to consider the pressures we face in Kent and to
work with us to best safeguard the services that matter most to people and
which support the most vulnerable.”

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

Mr Oakford continued: “That said, we do need to be realistic about the
prospect of large-scale support and we must intensify our approach across
the board to mitigate the effects of the current economic climate. What
that looks like is a combination of resisting pressures, managing down our
costs and having to make some tough and painful decisions.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

“Soaring inflation and increasing demand pressures are affecting our
delivery, from home care to road maintenance, waste disposal to home to
school transport. Increased energy and fuel costs are hitting frontline
services, from staff travelling to provide domiciliary care to increased
energy prices in social care settings.

Council Leaders Are Warning That Further Cuts To The Already-stretched Services Supporting Kent’s Residents Are Going To Be Extremely Challenging And Hit Hard

“Around £1.3billion of our annual budget is subject to inflationary
pressures. We are, of course, seeing the same level of increase on our
costs as residents and we are currently experiencing £70m of unbudgeted
inflationary and demand-led pressures this year alone. Our Capital
programme is also severely impacted with materials and building costs
rocketing by over 30% and the increasing interest rates impacting on any
required borrowing.

“We constantly strive to make the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money to
provide the services our residents need most and, since 2010, we have
achieved savings in excess of £820 million as we responded to cuts in
government funding, coupled with an increase in demand and complexity for
many of our services.

“However, presenting a balanced budget is getting harder every year and
tough calls are inevitable now.”

*The concerns from the CCN came in the same week as directors of public
health from across the county added their voices to the debate around the
potential impact of impending cuts.*

*Dr Anjan Ghosh, KCC Director of Public Health (pictured right), said: *“Public
Health in Kent County Council provides vital leadership and services to our
residents. Many of the services form an essential lifeline to our children
and their families, young people and older people. This has been provided
despite the year-on-year cuts during the period of austerity. As we face
the cost of living crisis it is crucial to maintain continued and increased
investment in public health. Cutting the public health grant would be
devastating for the most vulnerable communities in Kent.”

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