A further swingeing cut of £91m in the Budget for the Kent County Council in 2014/15 was announced by the Tory administration last Tuesday, £10m of which would be found by increasing the Council Tax by just under 2%.
This represents a cutback of £350m over the four year period since the Coalition Government came into office and it is not finished yet.
Similar annual reductions of £90m are expected in the years up to 2020. As local government provides many educational, economic and social services, such cuts hit people on middle and lower incomes the most.
Gordon Cowan, Leader of the Labour Group, says:
“As we examine this Budget, we shall have uppermost in our minds how the proposals will affect those on middle and lower incomes. Such draconian cutbacks as these can only mean that some services will have to go or be severely reduced. All the talk of “service transformation” by the Kent Tories cannot hide the fact that children and youth centres have already closed and there is more to come. We shall fight to keep those services which are vital to the needs of the majority of Kent residents.”
Roger Truelove, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, says:
“In 2010, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, promised that he would remove the structural deficit by 2015. His failure to achieve this aim has led directly to the continuance of his brutal austerity campaign way into the future. Local Government has been hit disproportionately harder than any other Whitehall departments because the Chancellor hopes to duck his responsibility for the cuts by “passing the buck” to local councils.”
Derek Smyth, Labour Finance Spokesperson, says:
“We shall consider the proposal to increase the rate of Council Tax by just under 2% with care but will only agree to it if the money raised, some £10m, is spent specifically on schemes which will ease the burden on those most affected by the austerity policies of the Coalition Government.”