There were ashen faces earlier this week as Medway Council chiefs and politicians began their analysis of the money they can spend next year.
The cuts are far worse than anyone expected.
Jobs are at risk.
So, too, is the excellent Sure Start programme.
It has helped hundreds of families and children over the past few years, yet it has taken a 10 per cent hit - just after the 19th (and last) centre opened.
In simple term, Sure Start provides the sort of support that used to exist before families were broken up and forced to move around the country. You may recall the exhortation of one latter-day politician to get "on yer bike."
Mums and Dads lost the advice, counselling and training that had been available to their parents and grandparents.
We are now into the third (even fourth) generation of families where that support has been lost.
What Sure Start offers is the advice from older generations: how to cook a wholesome meal with few items and a lot of ingenuity, how to divert a fractious child without dumping them in front of a television, how to involve them in play.
It was actually stopping the downward slide. Cutting its funding could be a disaster in more ways than one.
I spent an enthralling evening last night watching how democracy works in "the sticks": I went to a parish council meeting.
There are few of them in Medway - many in other parts of the county. What they have in common is a government wish to see them take much greater powers.
It was rude, indisciplined, anti-democratic, suspicious, abusive .... everything that the government actually doesn't want.
None of the councillors has been elected for years.
One councillor who has faced the ire of the disenchanted on the doorsteps and at the ballot box had warned me: "It is a private fiefdom."
It certainly came across that way to me.
If parish councils are to work - and they should - the government has to ensure there are parish elections (not self-perpetuating oligarchies). It has to require elected councillors and officials to be provided with training. It also has to remove the burden of charging the parish for holding its elections. It doesn't do that with larger authorities, so why is the basic level of British democracy forced to pay?
Amid some personal abuse when it was discovered there was a reporter present who had accepted the council's public invitation to attend the classic comment came from one councillor as they added a few hundred pounds here and a couple of thousand there to their draft budget. He said: "Bigger councils are expected to control their spending. There seems to be no such control over us."
Watch out, villagers. If this council's draft is maintained - and the additional spending is repeated by others in Kent - you will face some big bills in April.
Oh - I was refused a copy of the draft budget even though it is a legal requirement to make supporting papers available to the public, and told that the council had resolved that no one (councillors or public) could record what was said at council meetings.
Read next week's Medway Messenger ...