Council agrees budget for 2024-25 focusing on core services for most vulnerable residents

Leader of Kingston Council Andreas Kirsch
Leader of Kingston Council Andreas Kirsch

Kingston Council has agreed a budget for 2024-25 that focuses on delivering core services for residents most in need and continues work with partners to create a fairer, safer, greener borough for all

Along with most councils across the country, Kingston is facing a huge challenge to find money to deliver current services, and the pressure is increasing. More people, families and children are struggling and need help, while the costs of delivering services continue to rise.

The 2024-25 budget sets out that the council will spend £178m on vital support for the most vulnerable residents, while meeting the pressures of rising costs caused by the national economic crisis, increasing levels and complexity of need and significant long-term underfunding from central government.

The majority of Kingston's budget is spent on supporting the increasing social care needs of children and adults, and providing accommodation for the growing number of people needing temporary housing. Currently at least 60p of every £1 of council tax is spent on these essential services.

As part of its legal duty, the council is providing close to 1,000 families and individuals with temporary accommodation.  Over 1,000 of the borough’s most vulnerable children are being supported through care placements, specialist help and home to school transport for those with special educational needs. In addition the council is assisting over 3,000 adults and their carers with help at home, mental health support and community day services.

As well as supporting the most vulnerable residents, the council is delivering for the whole borough. It is building the first new, sustainable council homes in 40 years. New council housing has already been completed at two sites - families have moved into 18 homes at Arun House in Kingston and 19 homes at York Way in Chessington. Construction is also underway on 2,170 new sustainable homes on the Cambridge Road Estate, 871 of which will be council homes.

Kingston is one of the first councils in the UK to fully replace its waste fleet with 27 electric vehicles. It has also installed 250 new electric vehicle charging points across the borough, upgraded 21 community parks, planted 450 trees and replaced over 6,000 street lights with modern LED bulbs which use half the power of older bulbs.

The majority of the council’s core budget relies on what it receives from council tax and the proportion of business rates it is allowed to keep.

To help meet the financial pressures of looking after the most vulnerable adults and children, as well as the ongoing impacts of the cost of living crisis, a council tax increase of 2.99% has been agreed, along with a 2% increase in the adult social care precept.

Leader of Kingston Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Andreas Kirsch, said: 

“With costs rising, demand for services increasing and very little funding from central government, the challenges we are now facing are more significant than ever. This means we have had to take difficult decisions about how to allocate the finite resources available.

“We are working harder than ever to find even more cost effective ways of providing the best possible services to residents. Our work with our partners and communities to do things differently is now more important than ever.

“Many people are facing a difficult time at the moment with the current cost of living crisis. Help is available for those on low incomes or claiming certain benefits through our council tax reduction scheme.”

Published: 1st March 2024