Facing the Cuts: 1,500 Kent council jobs could be cut
By Bob Dale
Council workers have been out and about keeping pavements clear
Over 1,500 council jobs could be cut across Kent in the next five years, according to a survey carried out by BBC Kent and published on 1 March 2010.
All 12 of the county's district and borough councils, as well as Kent County Council and Medway Council, were asked to take part in the survey, ahead of what are expected to be major public spending cuts in the next two years.
As well as KCC and Medway, eight district and boroughs responded, and all but Shepway predicted there would be job losses.
KCC said it expected to employ 774 fewer people in five years time, while Medway predicted its number of employees would fall by 300.
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Of the districts who responded to the survey, Canterbury forecast the highest figure, with the City Council expecting to cut its staff by a 150.
Canterbury also gave the grimmest prediction of spending cuts, estimating it would be reducing its spending by between 20% and 25% in the next three to five years. In the same period KCC believes it will see its spending reduced by up to 20%, and Medway's by between 1-% and 15%.
The councils who predict the lowest spending cuts are Gravesham and Tonbridge and Malling, who both believe they will see their budgets reduce by up to 5%.
Feeling the squeeze
When asked which spending areas they thought most vulnerable to the squeeze on spending, KCC listed adult and children's social services, highways, environmental services, economic development, libraries, arts and voluntary organisations.
Medway also singled out adult social services, libraries and economic development, which it said could see cuts, despite the need to support small businesses through the recession. KCC also said it will be looking at some of the discretionary services it provides, with a view to charging people who use it directly, rather than charging every council tax payer.
Every local authority which responded to the survey said it was looking to save money by sharing services with neighbouring councils.
Plans between Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Shepway are already well advanced, with savings of between £2.5 million and £3 million hoped to be achieved by merging departments such as IT, revenues and benefits, customer services and building control.
Since July 2009 Kent has been one of 13 areas of England selected to pilot the Government's Total Place scheme, a drive to deliver public services more efficiently. In Kent it is focused on helping people access services on-line or over the phone, and on pooling resources in the most deprived areas.
A migrant youth project in Margate is one of the schemes threatened by cuts in the south east
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