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Gravesham Council leader hits out at Kent County Council's budget
THE LEADER of Gravesham Council has sparked a political row after hitting out at Kent County Council’s (KCC) “pie in the sky” budget.
Councillor John Burden says County Hall’s budget plans for 2013/14 will “hit the least well off and the elderly, young and unemployed at a time when they most need help.”
In plans published earlier this month, KCC has set out how it plans to save £60m next year following central government cuts - crucially, without increasing council tax.
Savings proposed include a £19m cut in adult social care, a £3m reduction in spending on children’s services and a £2m cut in staffing costs.
Cllr Burden said: “The county hall budget is full of so-called aspirational savings – aspirational is another word for ‘pie in the sky.’
“Over and over in this budget you see contributions from County Hall slashed, meaning boroughs have to pick up the tab in times when the government is squeezing us even more than county councils.
“KCC has already slashed its supporting people grant by £100,000 to £288,000 in Gravesham and is now planning to axe more.
“This means we will not have enough money to support sheltered housing projects and will have to find it from rents.”
Cllr Burden added: “This is wholesale slaughter of vital services on the altar of keeping KCC’s share of council tax down as we approach an election year.”
In the past three years KCC has seen a 24 per cent cut in central government funding, amounting to £280m.
County Hall prides itself on freezing council tax since 2011 and says it would rise for average households by £108 next year if cuts are not made elsewhere.
KCC leader Councillor Paul Carter hit back at Cllr Burden’s comments saying: “Gravesham Council’s leader needs to stop scaremongering and look at KCC’s highly successful track record over recent years of managing multimillion pound budgets effectively.
“In this era of austerity we’ve had to contend with substantially reduced government grant - next year will be the final year of this substantive reduction.
“KCC has broadly delivered these highly challenging savings with minimal impact on the delivery of good quality front line services.”