Kingston Liberal Democrats have presented a balanced budget that continues to support the most vulnerable in our community and protect the services local residents rely on, despite the extraordinary pressures the Council has faced this financial year.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Council’s finances hard with an increase in demand for services as well as substantial income losses. The Lib Dems have already proved to be financially responsible since taking over from the Conservatives who left the Council on the brink of bankruptcy in May 2018.
Whilst the Conservative Government has offered some financial support throughout the year, Kingston Council has been left with a shortfall of £4 million. This comes in the context of huge financial challenges for Kingston even without Covid-19. Back in 2010, the Council received £66 million from Westminster but now it receives nothing from the Government for its central budget.
This lack of funding means that almost 90% of the Council’s budget comes from Council Tax and Business Rates. In order to balance the budget whilst protecting the most vulnerable in our borough and maintaining Kingston’s services, we have no choice but to raise council tax by 4.99%.
The newly published papers also show Kingston Council spends 57p in every pound supporting some vulnerable people to live independent lives and providing care to others who need help looking after themselves. This work is vital to protect our local NHS.
Cllr Andreas Kirsch, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commissioning, said, “This balanced budget sets out our commitment to support residents and businesses with the challenges they now face, whilst making sound plans for the future.
“This year, despite the pressures of the pandemic, we are proud to have supported thousands of residents through the Kingston Stronger Together Hub, alongside maintaining our core services.
“With over half of our total budget being spent on supporting residents who need our help the most, a lack of funding from central Government and a need to rebuild and protect the Council’s finance, I hope residents understand our decision to present a balanced budget and raise Council Tax.”
Cllr Caroline Kerr, Leader of the Council, said, “We understand any increase in council tax will impact residents but we must protect the services people rely on and continue to provide the support our most vulnerable residents need.
“From receiving £66 million in general government grant in 2010 we now receive nothing. Almost 90% of the council’s budget comes from council tax and business rates. At a time when we are facing an increase in demand and a loss of income because of the pandemic we have no choice but to raise council tax.
“We are putting our finances in a position that means we can support those who need us most and shape a better future for Kingston and its residents.“