Leader calls for long-term solution to care fund­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Setting A Budget - By Paul Fran­cis

County coun­cil­lors have backed a 4% rise in the coun­cil tax in a bud­get that coun­cil leader Cllr Paul Carter ac­knowl­edged was “high risk”.

The author­ity’s spend­ing plans for 2017-18 were ap­proved by the coun­cil af­ter a six-hour de­bate at County Hall.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties said the bud­get would leave res­i­dents pay­ing more for poorer ser­vices.

How­ever, there was con­sen­sus among all par­ties that ur­gent ac­tion was needed to ad­dress the dwin­dling amount of money pro­vided by the gov­ern­ment to meet spi­ralling de­mand for adult care.

The coun­cil is mak­ing cuts of £18.1 mil­lion in ser­vices for vul­ner­a­ble adults but that fig­ure would have been even higher had it not been for changes in the way care costs have been trimmed through a part­ner­ship with con­sul­tants New­ton Europe.

The bud­get de­bate took place against a back­drop of claims that Sur­rey County Coun­cil had se­cured a sweet­heart deal with the gov­ern­ment that had been struck to avoid a 15 % coun­cil tax hike.

Cllr Carter said that while he had no knowl­edge of any deal, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for Sur­rey to have spe­cial treat­ment.

On KCC’s bud­get, he said the coun­cil had a good track record but that the gov­ern­ment had to ad­dress the adult so­cial care cri­sis.

“We have trans­formed the way ser­vices are de­liv­ered, par­tic­u­larly in­vest­ing in pre­ven­ta­tive ser­vices to avoid es­ca­la­tion, and fo­cussed on ef­fi­ciency to back­of­fice pro­cesses to max­imise the in­vest­ment in front­line ser­vice de­liv­ery.”

But he said short-term fixes to the fund­ing chal­lenges in adult care could not con­tinue and a sus­tain­able long-term solution was needed.

Cllr Carter said: “Are we ap­proach­ing a cri­sis in so­cial care fund­ing?

“I think the gov­ern­ment read­ily ac­cepts that we are… and it will come round and bite us un­less lo­cal gov­ern­ment and cen­tral gov­ern­ment finds new ways of fund­ing care.”

The bud­get will see av­er­age bills for KCC’s share of the coun­cil tax rise by £45 to £1,178 for homes in Band D.

KCC is us­ing for the sec­ond year a power to add a 2% sup­ple­men­tary tax to pay for more adult care.

KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter

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