KCC proposes lowest ever council tax increase

Contributed by editor on Jan 09, 2009 - 07:00 AM

Kent County Council is proposing a council tax rise of under 3%, the
lowest ever increase since the tax was introduced in 1993.

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KCC's Leader Paul Carter said: "It has been
exceedingly difficult to arrive at a council tax increase for next year
that is below 3%. Currently we are looking at an increase of 2.85% but
we will continue in the next few weeks to look to reduce it further.

"Our proposals protect and further improve front-line services. The
recession and the growing elderly population in the county create
enormous pressures on our budget. In adult social care alone we are
having to allocate an additional £8.7m to maintain services for the most

"Increased demand for services and other cost pressures mean we have had
to put an additional £66.4m into the budget. The net increase in our
government grant was £5.1m, leaving the rest to be raised locally from
savings, income and council tax. The county council will deliver £39.3m
in savings and income during 2009-2010."

Next year will see increased expenditure including:

  • £4.6m extra for front-line services to protect vulnerable young people

  • £8.7m investment in adult social care

  • financing of an extra £15.9m of Highways Maintenance

  • £3.8m delivering our commitment to roll out the Freedom Pass county-wide
    from June 2009, giving free bus travel to 11 to 16 years olds

    Mr Carter said: "These are difficult times for us all. We are therefore
    proposing a pay settlement of 1% for KCC staff at all levels of the
    organisation, which is built into next year's budget."

    KCC's ambitious capital building programme, at £1.2bn over the next
    three years, remains one of the largest in the country and will improve
    schools, highways and public buildings.

    The budget, which will need to be approved by the Council's Cabinet on 2
    February and the County Council on 19 February, is expected to keep
    Kent's Band D tax lower than the majority of county councils. Currently
    Kent has the 12th lowest band D council tax out of 34 shire authorities.

    Based on a 2.85% increase, the KCC element of the council tax bill for
    Band D properties will increase by £28.53 (55p a week) to £1030.32. The
    increase is markedly below the government's effective capping limit of
    5% and the April increase for state pensions (5.0%) and state benefits