Residents invited to share their views on Kingston Council’s budget proposals
Kingston Council is inviting residents to give their views on its outline budget plans for 2020-21.
The council’s financial position has been made dramatically worse by the historical and systematic underfunding of services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Kingston has been left with an in-year shortfall of £6 million, which means there is huge pressure to find money from other services that we know residents value.
Despite all efforts we can not fill the gap left by historical underfunding and the council needs to make savings of £34 million over the next four years, while demand for services continues to grow. The borough no longer receives any general funding from central Government, which has reduced from £66 million since 2010.
More than 60% of the council's budget is spent on those people who need our support the most, with 40% going on Adult Social Care and 23% on Children’s Services. The population of the borough has also risen by 20,000 since 2010, up to 179,000 and is projected to increase to 202,234 by 2030.
Councillor Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council, said:
“The financial reality of our situation is stark and we are trying to balance the budget to enable people to get the services they need and value. But this is made much harder by the inadequate funding we get to support children and young people with SEND.
“It is particularly wrong that Kingston’s council tax payers are being asked to take cuts to services to pay for historical government underfunding of these services.
“We are asking for your views before we take the budget through committees and then to Budget Council. I value the opinions of residents and as a council we are committed to working with people and community groups to get the best outcomes, so please tell us what you think.
“We know this is challenging, and we will fight to get appropriate funding to meet SEND needs and we will continue to ensure that we find new and innovative ways to provide services. Our ambition to provide the best for this vibrant, diverse and inclusive borough holds strong, as does our unwavering commitment to helping residents who need our support most.”
Councillor Alison Holt, Portfolio Member with responsibility for Finance, added:
“The lack of funding means we are being forced to make tough decisions in challenging financial circumstances. We have a finite pot of money to provide services and we need to use it wisely.
“We are doing all we can to minimise the impact of the financial position but we need the government to also do its bit to fund services for the most vulnerable children and young people in the borough.”
You can have your say on the proposals and try out our budget simulator by visiting kingstonletstalk.co.uk/balancing-kingstons-budget. If you would like a paper questionnaire, or if you need the information in a different format, please call 020 8547 4701.
You can share your views until 16 January 2020. Proposals will be discussed in more detail at the council’s strategic committees during January and February 2020.
A final decision on the budget will be made at Budget Council on 27 February 2020. For more information on committee dates or to watch live, visit our website.