Finance

KCC Budget Strategy 2018/19

Draft Budget Strategy 2018/19

Kent County Council

Opens: 12 Oct 2017
Closes: 3 Dec 2017

Kent County Council provides a huge range of essential services to the people of Kent and when times are tough it is more important than ever to spend your money wisely. The Councillors you elect have some big decisions ahead and we would value your advice and suggestions before taking them. We’d like to hear your views on these challenges as the council sets its budget for next year (April 2018 to March 2019).

John Simmonds MBE, Cabinet Member for Finance, explains the challenges we face in this short video:

KCC Budget 2017 from Kent County Council on Vimeo.

£933m spent on services in 2017/18How we are funded

Funding for our budget comes from many sources in addition to Council Tax, including grants from central government.

Each year we set a budget to decide how much we’re able spend on services for Kent residents and businesses for the next financial year and how much income we need from Government and local taxation to fund this.

£589m savings made over the last 7 years

Our priorities

We prioritise spending on services that make sure children and young people get the best start in life, that communities feel the benefit of economic growth, and that support vulnerable residents to live independently.

Our strategic statement annual report gives details of how we are ensuring every pound spent in Kent is delivering better outcomes for Kent’s residents, communities and businesses.

£62.5m funding gap 2017/18 to 2018/19The Big Challenge

In recent years the amount of money available from Government has been decreasing while demand and cost for council services has been increasing. We expect this trend to continue in coming years.

Since 2010 we have made savings of £589 million to offset these challenges and continue to protect and invest in services. These savings have focussed on the transformation of services, which means delivering better outcomes at lower cost, and working in more efficient ways. This has allowed us to continue to protect frontline services.

We have less funding from Government but there is increased pressure on spending as a result of rising demand for services, inflation and the living wage. This means that despite the £589m savings we have already made, we still have considerable savings to find now in the years to come.

2018/19 consultation documents

2017/18 budget

Have your say on our 2018/19 budget

We are asking questions about:

  • Council Tax
  • budget strategy (how KCC plans for the future)
  • how aware people are about the financial challenge most councils face.

There is also an opportunity to give any general views or suggestions you may have.

To make sure you have all the information to help you give an informed response, we have prepared a short summary to be read before answering the questions.

Take part in our consultation

The consultation closes on 3 December 2017.

Quit with E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are a great way to help combat nicotine cravings and carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes.

An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine through vapour rather than smoke. E-cigarettes come in a variety of models and work by heating a solution that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine, and flavourings. E-cigarette vapour doesn’t contain tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. Using an e-cigarette isn’t completely risk-free, but it carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking and can help you quit.

E-cigarettes are particularly effective when combined with support from local stop smoking services – people who choose this route have some of the highest quitting success rates. E-cigarettes aren’t currently available on NHS prescription, but they can be bought in vape shops, pharmacies and other retail outlets.

Is it right for you?

Speak to your GP, pharmacist, find out more on the Smokefree website, or

Contact Local stop smoking services for free advice and support
By telephone on 0300 123 1220,
fill in an online form,
text ‘quit’ to 87023,
or call at the One You Shop in Park Mall Ashford

Discretionary Rate Relief Consultation

ABC CrestDiscretionary Rate Relief – Autumn 2017

Ashford Borough Council

Opens: 25 September 2017
Closes: 6th November 2017

The revaluation of business rates by the Valuation Office Agency took effect on 1st April 2017. This has led to some businesses, including some in the Ashford borough, seeing large increases in the rateable value of the premises they occupy.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has now stated that the government has put in place a £300m fund to enable local authorities to put in place a discretionary rate relief scheme. This is intended to help businesses apply for assistance if they have suffered from the impact of the first revaluation for seven years.

Ashford Borough Council has been allocated a share of the £300m funding pot to cover a four-year period, with £350,000 funding confirmed for year one and £175,000 for year two.

The government has issued guidance for local authorities and the council has put together a proposed scheme to help those business ratepayers who have suffered significant increases following the recalculation of the rateable value of the premise they occupy.

We are now consulting on our proposed scheme and invite you to comment. Please read the information in this summary document and then comment via this consultation portal.

You can respond to this consultation before 11.59pm on Monday 6th November 2017. Once the consultation has closed, an ‘output report’ showing all the responses received will be available on the council’s website from Friday 10th November.

Cabinet will meet on Thursday 9th November 2017 and consider the responses to the consultation. Full council will then consider the cabinet’s recommendations on 14th December 2017 and agree how the scheme will work for the remainder of the 2017-18 and then the 2018-19 financial years.

Consultation Documents

Respond to this Consultation

Consultation Links

Consultation Summary

Name Discretionary Rate Relief – Autumn 2017
Description The council is consulting on its proposed discretionary rate relief scheme, following announcement of a funding allocation from government to help businesses adversely affected by the Valuation Office Agency’s revaluation that came into effect on 1st April 2017.
Dates From 25 Sep 2017 at 00:00 to 6 Nov 2017 at 23:59. The results will be published by 10 Nov 2017.
Status Open

Ashford Borough Council 25 September 2017
https://haveyoursay.ashford.gov.uk/consult.ti/Discretionary_Rate_Relief/consultationHome

HLF Funding for Victoria Park

Hubert FountainA bid by Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has led to the award of £ 167,000, as the first stage of a proposal for £ 3.2 million, from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund England’s Parks for People programme. The funds will be used toward the development stage of the Council’s Victoria Park and Watercess Fields Masterplan.

Chris Dixon,  Arts and Cultural Industry Manager at ABC, commented to South Ashford Community Forum, when the application was submitted, “The priority for the programme is to conserve the existing heritage of the designated park, intending to make a significant difference to heritage, people and communities in the area. It is a two stage application process. The first stage is to develop a more detailed second round proposal. We are at the very earliest point, with no confirmed detailed plans, but have an ambition to:

  • refurbish the Hubert fountain and piazza;
  • reintroduce or recognise lost cultural and natural heritage elements;
  • provide a volunteers compound and other community facilities; and
  • put in place a range of community events and activities including a new ‘Friends Group’ etc.

The award follows the signing of a number of Section 106 agreements that allocate nearly £ 470,000, due to be paid on occupation of local developments.

Copycat Websites

Copycat websites are those which offer services from government departments or local government, but are not the official site and charge an often substantial premium for those services, often with no tangible benefit to the customer. They achieve this by using website tools to achieve high positions in search engines such as Google, often ranking them higher than the official site and making it appear as though they are ‘official’ or ‘authorised’. They also have website addresses designed to confuse with the official site, and often feature a similar look and feel and brand design.

Google does not allow promotion of firms which charge fees for services that are free from an official site, yet the copycat sites persist. They are meant to prominently display that the service they are offering is available free of charge or for a lower fee, but this often displayed in small type at the bottom of the page, or not at all. At least one government agency has taken action with the Advertising Standards Authority against sites which have copied their official logo and branding.

Get started…

Always be sure that you are using the official website, as copycat sites can occupy many of the top listings on your search engine page and end up costing you unnecessary money.

The Risks

  • Being misled into paying excessive prices for official services which can be purchased on the government department or local government site at the correct price. These services include:
    • Passports.
    • Birth and death certificates.
    • Fishing licences.
    • Driving licences.
    • Driving tests.
    • Congestion Charge.
    • European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC).
  • Being told that using copycat sites make a particular process or application faster or easier, when in fact you could do it yourself equally quickly and easily.

Searching and Buying Official Services Safely

  • Do not automatically opt to use the first website(s) you find in a search engine, even if the address seems authentic and you are in a hurry.
  • Instead, take time to look for the official website. You can normally tell that site is official if it ends in ‘.gov.uk’, it has the department, agency or council’s authentic logo and contact details and the prices are cheaper.
  • If you do opt to use an unofficial site to purchase official services, make sure that the payment page is secure by checking that the address begins with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ is short for ‘secure’) and there is a locked padlock in the browser window.

If you think you have been misled into overpaying by using an unofficial site:

  • Contact the site to insist on a refund, saying you think you were misled.
  • Contact the relevant government department or agency or local government organisation and report the copycat site.

#scamaware

Get Safe Online
https://www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/copycat-websites/

Talk about scams

Anyone can be scammed. Scammers are intelligent, charming and persuasive – but feeling embarrassed or ashamed about falling for a scam can stop people from reporting them or getting the help they need.

Read Michael’s story to see how it could happen to anyone.

Play your part and share your experience on social media with #scamaware and help stop scams.

“I saw my dream car being advertised on Facebook. I had many conversations with the seller and it all seemed above board. All I needed to do was pay a deposit of £3,850 and when the car was delivered I would pay the balance.

“The next day I waited for my car and it didn’t arrive. I tried calling the seller but he never responded.

“I went to my bank and they said their fraud team would investigate. A few weeks later they got in touch, said they had retrieved my money and would be transferring it back to me.

“I will say that if you see something that seems too good to be true, then it probably is and if I am ever asked to do a bank transfer again I’ll decline as your money is not protected.”

Michael

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Is someone you know being scammed?

Older people and those who are isolated in their community are often targeted by scammers. If you know or visit someone who might be a target you can support them by keeping an eye out for potential signs of scams.

Someone you know might be being targeted if they:

  • have letters piling up – usually from abroad or what looks like junk mail
  • have a lot of items delivered, such as health or beauty products or fake jewellery
  • are anxious when the phone rings, or get a lot of phone calls
  • become secretive when discussing finances or have unexplained expenses to ‘friends’

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Why you should report scams

Reporting is really important in the fight against scams and fraud. It might help you to recover your losses and it helps the authorities to learn more about the tactics used by scammers.

The more we know about scams the better we can tackle them.

If you suspect a scam report it to Action Fraud – you can use their online reporting tool: www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

If you’ve lost money in a scam, tell your bank, finance company or pension provider.

For more advice call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

#scamaware

Citizen’s Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

How to spot a scam

Scams are often hard to spot as they’re complex and use psychological tricks. You can keep yourself and others safe by knowing when it might be a scam.
If you’re not sure if something is a scam, get advice.

Talk to friends and family if something seems too good to be true, or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

It could be a scam if you:

  • Get a call, text or email out of the blue – genuine companies and banks won’t ask for your full personal or security details
  • Are rushed to make a decision or give someone your details – if it’s real, you shouldn’t have to make a decision straight away
  • See a deal that’s very cheap or too good to be true
  • Are asked to pay for something up-front, like collecting a loan, or starting a job
  • Are asked to send money or your bank details to someone you’ve never met, especially friends online
  • Get a text or email saying that your bank needs to contact you ‘urgently’ especially if there’s a link to a website or a premium rate number

Find out more about common scams:
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/scams/common-scams/

#scamaware

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/