Bus services in Kent used by the elderly, the disabled and those who don't drive are set to have their funding slashed by 70 per cent, resulting in a loss of 74 services.

Cash strapped Kent County Council has announced plans to scrap more than 70 services, including 14 school buses, to deliver a saving of £4m for next year's budget.

The council has already admitted it needs to reduce spending by a massive £62.5m in 2018/19 as funding from central government decreases.

These new proposals would mean the loss of dozens of rural services and would leave some residents without access to hospitals with four hospital buses earmarked for the chop.

In a report, it says the cuts will have greater impact on the elderly and disabled people.

The report said: "From April 2018, the budget for socially necessary bus budget will reduce by £2m. And will further reduce by £2m from April 2019.

"To deliver a £4m reduction in budget will require the withdrawal of 74 Socially Necessary Bus Services contracts. These contracts currently provide 1.6m journeys per annum.

"SNBS, as supported by KCC, represent only 3 per cent of the total local bus mileage in Kent. In 2016/17 there were 3.8m journeys made on the SNBS."

A decision on which services are proposed to end will be made in December, with consultation beginning in January before a final decision is made in May, with contracts with the current operators ending in September.

In Dartford, the 433, 423 and 489 to and from New Ash Green could be scrapped.

The 474, 475 from Bluewater and Hartley could also be under threat.

The 306 and 308 Northfleet, Borough Green, Bluewater & Wrotham are also included in the plans.

Speaking about the savings needed in the budget, council leader Paul Carter said: "KCC has been highly successful over the last six to seven years in delivering a whole range of cost reduction measures, enabling public money to support improved front line services to our residents.

“This is against significant additional pressures on demand-led services provided by the council as a result of significant population growth and the need to support a growing proportion of elderly people in the count."

The leader of Labour councillors on Dartford, councillor Jonathon Hawkes, said the group would oppose the cuts if they are approved. 

He said: "For many people in Dartford the bus is a lifeline. 

- not everyone drives a car and for many residents - particularly those on lower incomes, those who have disabilities, the elderly - they rely on these services and these cuts will have a significant negative impact on their day to day lives."

"Many parents also rely on these services to get their kids to school safely."

Following a consultation, the services could be axed as early as September next year.