More pri­vati­sa­tion likely as county coun­cil strug­gles to keep ser­vices go­ing £240m ‘car crash’ of cuts

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - School Fete - By Paul Fran­cis

pfran­cis@thek­m­group.co.uk Kent County Coun­cil yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) re­vealed how it in­tends to plug an es­ti­mated £240 mil­lion fund­ing hole over the next four years.

The rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion said the con­tin­u­ing pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing squeeze means it will have to rad­i­cally re-model the way ser­vices are pro­vided.

It is likely to mean more out­sourc­ing and pri­vati­sa­tion of ser­vices to a mix of pri­vate con­trac­tors, busi­nesses, vol­un­tary groups and so-called so­cial en­trepreneurs.

Coun­cil lead­ers ar­gue the move rep­re­sents the least-worst op­tion and that, on its own, KCC would be un­able to de­liver the scale of sav­ings needed over the next four years.

It has al­ready stripped out £350m from its bud­get over the last four years.

How­ever, the prospect of fur­ther pri­vati­sa­tion will trig­ger claims it risks con­trac­tors and pri­vate com­pa­nies cherry-pick­ing ser­vices to run and ig­nor­ing those not com­mer­cially valu­able.

KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter (Con) re­cently warned of a “car crash round the cor­ner” af­ter the

‘I am not pre­pared to put up the white flag un­til we have re­ally squeezed ef­fi­cien­cies’

govern­ment an­nounced bud­gets for town halls would be slashed by a fur­ther 10%.

He said: “I am de­ter­mined to make sure that we lis­ten to our cus­tomers and pre­serve the ser­vices they value.

“That in­cludes non-statu­tory ser­vices.

“I am not pre­pared to put up the white flag un­til we have re­ally squeezed ef­fi­cien­cies out of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Cllr Carter added: “Just be­cause you are spend­ing less money does not lead to the con­clu­sion that you will end up with in­fe­rior ser­vices.”

David Lloyd, sec­re­tary of the Kent branch of Unison, said: “There are in­her­ent prob­lems with out­sourc­ing and pri­vati­sa­tion, as the ex­pe­ri­ence of other coun­cils has shown.”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

County coun­cil leader Cllr Paul Carter

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