Bud­gets will put ser­vices un­der threat

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

The leader of Kent County Coun­cil has warned of a ‘car crash round the cor­ner’ af­ter the govern­ment an­nounced bud­gets for town halls are to be slashed by a fur­ther 10%.

Cllr Paul Carter said com­pul­sory job losses, coun­cil tax in­creases and ser­vice cuts were all likely as a re­sult of the Chan­cel­lor’s con­tin­ued squeeze on the pub­lic sec­tor to deal with the national deficit.

And there was bad news for coun­cil staff af­ter the govern­ment said it was end­ing au­to­matic pay rises.

Re­act­ing to yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment, Cllr Carter warned: “We did ex­pect this and are plan­ning for that, but there is enor­mous un­cer­tainty about whether we will be able to go on pro­vid­ing good qual­ity front­line ser­vices.”

The coun­cil is ex­pected to re­veal some de­tails of a far-reach­ing shake-up in its ap­proach to key ser­vices next week, which is likely to in­volve a mix of more out­sourc­ing to the pri­vate sec­tor.

Mr Carter also ques­tioned the govern­ment’s pledge to pro­vide coun­cils with money to freeze coun­cil tax bills.

“The amount of money is not ad­e­quate to cover a coun­cil tax in­crease. A car crash is around the cor­ner.”

There could be bet­ter news with the govern­ment an­nounc­ing a £50bn in­vest­ment in build­ing and in­fra­struc­ture schemes. It is thought that af­ter years of de­lay, the govern­ment will give the green light to the du­alling of the A21.

KCC also ex­pects to get a sig­nif­i­cant sum to deal with the de­mand for more school places.

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