Finance

Hampshire County Council budget 2011/12 questions and answers

  1. What is the County Council's budget in 2011/12?
  2. How have you managed to freeze council tax?
  3. what will be the County Council's portion of the council tax for a Band D property?
  4. There is increasing disquiet among some sections of the community, notably pensioners, that they cannot afford to pay their council tax. What is the County Council doing to help them?
  5. Is the County Council looking at its own services and making efficiency savings?
  6. Couldn't the County Council make further savings by employing fewer people?
  7. What sort of council tax increase can we expect in future years?
  8. Has the County Council consulted with the public, and what did they say?

  

1. What is the County Council's budget in 2011/12?

The County Council's budget in 2011/12 is £716 million. Of this, £186 million comes from Government grant, and the rest is made up from council tax. In addition to this budgeted expenditure which the County Council is able to prioritise for spending in line with its strategy and plans there is a further £1,103 million of spending funded by income, and specific grants. The income is retained for reinvestment in the service to which it relates and specific grants are distributed for spending on specific services as directed by the Government after allowing for spending of £94 million funded from reserves. Total gross expenditure for 2011/12 is £1,913 million.

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2. How have you managed to freeze council tax?

The freeze has been funded through additional government support for councils that do not raise council tax in 2011/12. We will receive a grant from the government equivalent to the amount received if council tax had increased by 2.5 per cent. Town and parish councils, do not receive this grant.

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3. What will be the County Council's portion of the council tax for a Band D property?

Those living in a Band D property will pay £1,037.88 to the County Council in 2011/12 which is the same as in 2010/11 and one of the lowest county council rates in England.

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4. There is increasing disquiet among some sections of the community, notably pensioners, that they cannot afford to pay their council tax. What is the County Council doing to help them?

We're very much aware that those on low and fixed incomes - not just pensioners - are finding it very difficult to pay their council tax bills. We would urge those having difficulty paying their council tax to contact the County Council's Information Centres on 0845 603 5638 to see if they can claim financial assistance - many of those eligible are not doing so.More advice on sources of financial help, including claims for state benefits, can be found on DirectGov (www.direct.gov.uk/en/index.htm).

We will also continue to press Government to fund the County Council properly and recognise Hampshire’s public service needs in making decisions on grant distribution.

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5. Is the County Council looking at its own services and making efficiency savings?

Yes. In July 2010 the Cabinet agreed a programme of work to transform the way the council delivers services so that we can do more for less and to minimise the impact on frontline services and jobs where ever we can during the time of change. This programme, which includes cutting communications and support costs, renegotiating contracts, joining up services, restructuring departments and reducing our office accommodation, has identified savings of £52.3 million for 2011/12. Future work for the difficult years ahead is likely to include further co-located and shared services.

The Council is also reducing its pay bill, which makes up 51 per cent of the overall budget, in a way that minimises job losses, through voluntary redundancy and a recruitment freeze, which is already making significant savings. Pay will be frozen for a total of three years, mileage rates have been changed and the council is currently in the process of amending payments for overtime and weekend working. Senior management costs are also to be reduced by 25 per cent.

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6. Couldn't the County Council make further savings by employing fewer people?

Efficiencies and restructuring will lead to a reduction in the workforce in 2011/12 of around 1,200 fte posts or around 8% of the Council's staff. This figure includes some posts that are already vacant, some where agreement has already been reached with the staff involved and others that are to be consulted on over the coming months. The recruitment freeze will also result in the non-filling of further posts over the coming year. For the remaining posts the Council is looking to minimise compulsory job losses through its voluntary redundancy scheme.

The County Council employs around 41,000 staff, many of which are part-time. The vast majority of these provide frontline services, such as teachers and social workers, directly delivering a range of important services to the community.

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7. What sort of council tax increase can we expect in future years?

The Government Spending Review means we will have less money to run our services over the next four years. We face a grant reduction of at least 30 per cent over this period and have already taken steps to cut costs. The Spending Review also commits to providing authorities with additional funding in future years to “lock in” the benefits of the one year freeze and help ensure council taxpayers will not face subsequent excessive increases.

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8. Has the County Council consulted with the public, and what did they say?

We held a budget consultation workshop in November 2010 with residents and gave all Hampshire residents the opportunity to have their say online. There was a general unwillingness to see cuts in adult care and services that support children and young people, especially if they are vulnerable. The high spending values of these services also made respondents reticent about cutting or reducing expenditure.

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If you have any questions about the content of these pages please contact the County Treasurer's Department.