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Council tax could rise by almost 5% in Dartford and Gravesend

PUBLISHED: 16:09 15 January 2018

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council.

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council.

Archant

Council taxpayers in Kent could be hit by a 4.99per cent increase in their bills from April, Kent County Council announced today.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, January 15, the Conservative administration has announced plans for one of its biggest tax increases to date.

This comes after the government said councils could increase tax by an additional 1pc - raising £6million for KCC.

Until last month, councils only had the power to increase council tax up to 2pc without penalty or need for a referendum.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid controversially relaxed this in December, raising the threshold to 3pc, while also adding the ability to charge a 3pc “precept” to fund social care.

KCC has opted to introduce the full 3pc general tax rise and 2pc rise in contributions to adult social care for the next financial year.

Paul Carter, leader of KCC, said: “My colleagues and I have an instinctive belief in lower, not higher, taxes but we have an equal concern and that is to protect and deliver effective and efficient public services.

“It is a concern that arises not just from out day-to-day roles here at County Hall but from decades of investment in schools, children’s and adults’ social care, libraries, youth services and transport.”

For KCC to stay within their budget, savings of £53m are needed as funding from Westminster has been cut by £46.4m.

Cllr Carter added: “It is never easy to see council tax rise. However, our autumn consultation with the public has shown that the respondents will accept manageable council tax increases if they are used to protect front line services.

“Whilst the additional 1pc will raise £6m, it by no means compensates for the loss of grants but will go some way to protect front line services.”

On average, households in band D paid KCC £1,178.82 in 2017-2018.

These bills will go up by around £59 in the next financial year if the plans are approved, not including a predicted rise in payments towards district and borough councils as well as policing.

Rob Bird, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “Once again, the council tax payer is having to compensate for the government’s disdain for local government services.

“Paul Carter states that he has pleaded with his Conservative colleagues in Westminster for more funding.

“However, it is clear that they weren’t listening or didn’t care.”

Despite claims of cuts, KCC plans to reduce the planned savings to subsidised bus routes from £2.25m to £0.45m.

Cllr Bird added: “Kent’s bus users will be relieved that there should be few cuts to subsidised services next year but the threat is still there for the following years.

“As always, it is the most needing and the most vulnerable who will bear the brunt of the service cuts.

“It is sad to see County Council staff and the front line services they provide being hit with further cuts, particularly in the wake of the Conservatives councillors voting themselves an unprecedented 15pc pay increase.”

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