Finance

PCC proposes £12 rise to boost police frontline

Boosting Kent’s frontline – up to 200 more Police Officers and 80 more staff

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

Opens: 10 January 2018
Closes: 27 January 2018

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has today proposed a £12 rise in his precept to fund extra resources for Kent Police.

Matthew Scott writes:

“Over the past year, I have continued touring the county and speaking with local residents, community groups, businesses and charities to seek their views on Policing in Kent and Medway. I have spent time with the Police Officers, staff and volunteers serving on the frontline to hear their experiences too.

“There is no doubt that Policing remains under pressure. There are ever-increasing numbers of calls to respond to, many of which are more complex and a growing number of which are not criminal in nature – such as support for vulnerable people in mental health crisis. All of this comes whilst Britain’s threat level for international terrorism is severe.

“Despite all of this, Kent Police has been among the top-rated Forces in the country in independent inspections for efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy in 2016 and 2017. They have been deemed “Good” or “Outstanding” in every assessment, bar one. Police Officer numbers have risen since I was elected and PCSO numbers have also been protected. Antisocial behaviour is down 11%. There is a new cyber-crime team and the Volunteer Police Cadets programme is back. I’m investing more in services for victims of crime and together we have fixed the firearms licensing backlog.

“The Government has listened to the views of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and increased funding for counter terrorism by £50m and will be investing a further £130m in other national Policing schemes. In order to support local Policing, the Home Office has allowed PCCs to increase the council tax precept by £1 a month for an average household, which could raise up to £270m nationally. Together, this represents slightly more than the amount PCCs said we needed next year.

“Taking into consideration the views of residents, community groups, businesses, and the operational needs of Policing in Kent, I am pleased to be proposing the biggest recruitment drive for Kent Police for a considerable time.

“In laying out my proposal I am empowering the Chief Constable to recruit up to 200 additional Police Officers in the next year. These will go into boosting a number of areas, including rural and roads policing, local communities, fighting cyber-crime and providing greater public protection, and will take the total number of Police Officers in Kent to its highest level since 2012.

“In addition to this, I have listened to residents’ views about crime reporting, and so there will be a boost in the number of call handlers answering 999 and 101 calls, so that people can get help quicker and more information can be provided to the Police. This will be alongside the new online reporting service, which is available for certain issues for those who wish to use it. There will be over 80 new police staff roles that will cover this, as well as other areas of Policing.

“This will be funded in four ways:

  • I am asking residents to contribute the equivalent of an additional £1 per month from an average household towards the cost of Policing in Kent. This is not a request I am making lightly but is something I believe is necessary to keep Kent safe.
  • I have reviewed Kent Police’s proposals for over £9m of cost savings and believe that, as they will have a minimal impact on the frontline, they should be delivered. There should be no excuse for using extra council tax to prop up inefficient practices and where better value for money can be delivered, it should be. This will help mitigate the pressures of pay and inflation.
  • I am cutting the cost of my own office by £200,000 and re-investing this money in the frontline. I already provide extra money from my budget for Kent Police projects, such as the Volunteer Police Cadets and mental health workers in the Force Control Room.
  • I am authorising the use of a further £5m of Kent Police’s reserves over three years, should it be required, to support the recruitment drive.

“There will also be other opportunities to increase Police Officer numbers and improve services further. The Police Transformation Fund, worth £175m, has been made available by the Government for new projects that reform the way that Forces operate and I will encourage more bids to access some of this money. I will also continue to drive collaboration with police colleagues and other agencies to make best use of property and improve delivery.

“This is an ambitious proposal. It will mean that residents get something back for the tax that they pay and value for money in what is spent in their name. It boosts Policing in Kent in urban and rural areas in the fight against antisocial behaviour, organised crime, fraud and cyber-crime, domestic abuse and road traffic offences. Victims will get a better service when they have been subject to heinous acts and more criminals will be brought to justice.

“I hope that you will support this vital boost. Please email your thoughts by 27 January. The proposed precept rise will then go to the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel for its approval on 8 February.”

ABC Budget Consultation

Budget Consultation 2018/19

Ashford Borough Council

Opens 29 December 2017
Closes 7 February 2018

At the last Ashford Borough Council cabinet meeting, members agreed a draft budget for the 2018-19 financial year, which begins on 1st April 2018.

The draft budget is presented to Council members at a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just delivered his 2018 Autumn Budget to parliament. It is also set against the backdrop of the negotiations to leave the European Union, which continue to cause uncertainty.

Please read ABC’s draft budget summary document to help you take part in our budget consultation for the 2018-2019 financial year. We would value your feedback on our proposals.

2018-19_budget_consultation [pdf] 1295KB www.ashford.gov.uk/media/5384/2018-19_budget_consultation.pdf

The budget contains a large amount of information, so we felt it might be beneficial to outline the key points below:

Council tax

It is proposed that Ashford Borough Council increases its element of council tax by £3.50 per year for the average band D property, increasing the amount payable to Ashford Borough Council from £154 to £157.50 per year– please note this is based on the Ashford element of council tax only and will be adjusted to reflect your property band.

For context, even if all the other local authorities in Kent froze their council tax Ashford would still be setting the lowest council tax in Kent.

The council proposes to increase its element of council tax by £3.50 (which equates to 2.28%) as government allows councils to increase their council tax by 2% or £5, whichever is greater. So, although ours is proposed to increase by 2.28%, this is within agreed parameters.

The council’s Corporate Plan is focused on the delivery of business and housing growth as well as income generation from commercial activities – such as the £42m Elwick Place project, which is on budget and on schedule. The commercial approach needs time to mature and so for now we propose to increase council tax, however the future ambition of the council is to do so by a smaller amount every year. For example, last year the council raised council tax by £4. This year it proposes to do so by £3.50.

Ashford will still set the lowest council tax in Kent. (more…)

Healthier You for New Year

Is your New Year’s Resolution about a healthier lifestyle?

Are you planning to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking?

Before signing up for that expensive diet plan or gym membership call at the One You shop in Park Mall for free advice and support.

ONE YOU delivers a variety of free health services, support and advice including:

  • Support for quitting smoking
  • Healthy weight management for adults and children
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Support and advice on a range of lifestyle issues

With the right support and motivation you can make small changes to improve your health right away and double your chances of staying healthy as you get older.

Offering a friendly and unintimidating environment, people visit ONE YOU to ask questions and take advantage of the free health services on offer. You can drop in unannounced or arrange a scheduled appointment.

You can also get advice online at https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou

Cancelling a subscription or gym membership

If you do decide to try a diet plan or gym membership check the terms and conditions before signing and know your rights on cancelling payments:

Stopping a future payment on your debit or credit card
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/banking/stopping-a-future-payment-on-your-debit-or-credit-card/

Cancelling a gym membership
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/changed-your-mind/cancelling-a-gym-membership/

Are you scam savvy this year?

Stop the ScammersCriminals will be taking advantage this Christmas to send a record number of scams to catch us out.

Last Christmas over £16 million was lost to online scams in the UK. 

Types of scams to avoid this Christmas

  • E-Vouchers – criminals share free e-vouchers on social media or by email for well-known brands. Victims are told to click on a link to claim which takes them to a fake website where they are asked for personal and banking details.
  • Wish lists – can be useful to tell your friends and family about what gifts you would like this year however these lists can contain personal information which criminals use steal their identity and they can use the items to send phishing emails.
  • Social Media deals – messages on social media offering deals has increased in the last few years and while some of them may be genuine , criminals will be taking advantage often trying to tempt people with deals on electronics and jewellery.

READ about scams and how to deal with them
www.kent.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/consumer-protection/scams/types-of-scam

Kent County Council 15 December 2017
http://mailchi.mp/bab4ab365891/how-to-spot-fake-electrical-goods-puppy-buying-tips-and-more

Shopping online safety tips

UK online retail sales hit £133bn in 2016 and it is estimated to continue rising as we enjoy shopping in the comfort of our own homes.

The huge increase in parcels has lead to a number of businesses promising cheap and quick delivery services to meet demand.  This has resulted in a rise in complaints as courier companies compete on price but fail to deliver on time.

If you are shopping online this Christmas find out when the business can deliver the goods, especially if you want them to arrive before Christmas day.

If they don’t arrive in time contact the business as soon as you can. Use their complaints process to make a formal complaint.

NEWS: 

Online retailers pass the parcel as couriers fail to deliver the goods
https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/12/couriers-fail-deliver-retailers-surge-online-shopping

If something you ordered hasn’t arrived
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/somethings-gone-wrong-with-a-purchase/if-something-you-ordered-hasnt-been-delivered/

Kent County Council 15 December 2017
http://mailchi.mp/bab4ab365891/how-to-spot-fake-electrical-goods-puppy-buying-tips-and-more

What is a loan shark?

Call 0300 555 2222If your lender:

  • Offered you a cash loan,
  • Did not give you paperwork,
  • Added huge amounts of interest or APR to your loan,
  • Have threatened you,
  • Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you,

or

  • You are you scared of people finding out

they may be a loan shark.

You are not in trouble if you have borrowed cash or have been paying back a loan from an illegal money lender, the loan shark is. They are the people committing a crime, not you.

Report a loan shark, call Stop Loan Sharks on 0300 555 2222 or complete the form on their website: www.stoploansharks.co.uk/

Stop Loan Sharks is the England Illegal Money Lending Team of National Trading Standards

High pressure burglar alarm sales

Kent County Council (KCC) have received reports of a company using high pressure techniques to sell burglar alarms with a 5 year maintenance contract.

One salesman demanded the 80 year old resident pay the full amount upfront.

Please look out for neighbours and report any suspicious doorstep callers to KCC.

For advice on what to do if you or someone you know has been pressured into buying a product visit Citizens Advice or telephone them on 03454 04 05 06.

If you require work done to your home get a number of quotes. Use a reputable company who has been recommended by family or friends or use a Kent County Council approved trader via Checkatrade www.checkatrade.com/kent/.

Report it

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

Kent County Council  24 November 2017
http://mailchi.mp/kent/kent-residents-targeted-with-high-pressure-burglar-alarm-sales

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.