A few days ago we got a magazine from Kent County Council called Around Kent. Presumably it has been delivered to every house in the county. It contained a lot of jolly useful information, all of which could have been available on the council's website, thus saving tens of thousands of pounds in production costs. It did contain two adverts - from Saga and Manston Airport - but I doubt whether they covered a quarter of the printing costs. Anyway, that whinge isn't really my main point.
The document gave figures for the amounts of money KCC spent on different things last year. Here's the breakdown...
£982 million - schools
£609 million - social care for families and children
£461 million - adult social care
£361 million - everything else inc transport, libraries, museums, env protection, waste disposal & youth services
So, KCC has a total budget of nearly £2.5 billion for a population of 1.4 million. 75% of the money comes from centrall government out of central taxation.
Surely if localism is to mean anything, that ratio has got to change. But it will be a brave politician who opens the hornet's nest of local government finance.
One other point. More than two thirds of the entire KCC budget is spent on children related services. I must admit that's a figure I hadn't been aware of. Indeed, from the breakdown provided, only about 10% of the budget is spent on services for people who don't have children in state education or relations in social care.
I think these figures goes a long way to explaining why much of the electorate feels very remote from local government sometimes.