Minimising the impact of budget cuts
The 2011/12 financial year will be challenging for Hampshire County Council. Our general government grant is reducing by £30.9 million along with a £14.8 million reduction in other government grants. The general grant cut is the joint highest percentage cut for any county council and there will be further grant cuts in following years. There are also budget pressures, especially increasing demand for social care.
We recognise that many people will be concerned about their own finances in the current economic climate. A government grant has allowed the County Council's part of the council tax to be frozen for 2011/12. For a band D property, this will remain at £1,037.88, one of the lowest county council rates in the country.
This article examines the Hampshire County Council element of council tax. Your council tax bill also includes amounts for Hampshire Police Authority, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, your local district or borough council and, in many areas, a parish or town council.
Councillor Ken Thornber, Leader of Hampshire County Council, responds to your questions about the County Council’s budget and council tax for 2011/12.
Why is your reduction in government funding so high?
Hampshire County Council’s reduction is high because our council taxpayers currently pay proportionally more towards their services than council taxpayers in some other areas and so we are seen as less dependent on government funding.
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%. Town and parish councils do not receive this grant.
What are you doing to be more efficient?
Current efficiencies include renegotiating contracts for suppliers and services, saving £9.7 million. Others involve reducing office space and working with partners to share services and expertise, and to gain better access to funding.
Are staff costs being reduced?
Staff costs are a significant part of our budget, so they have to decrease and 1,200 full-time equivalent posts will be lost in 2011/12. Some will be through not filling vacancies (critical vacancies, such as child protection, will be filled), the remainder will have to be through redundancy. As many as possible will be through voluntary measures, but there will inevitably be some compulsory redundancies.
What changes are proposed for services?
We will always make savings first through efficiencies and reducing back–office costs. However, the size of the funding cuts means we will have to reduce or cease some services.
Resources will need to be targeted towards the most vulnerable, for example, youth support will be focused on young people most at risk. We have to decrease the amount of grants given to other organisations, focusing funding on the highest priorities. Bus subsidies will also reduce, which may lead to fewer rural bus services. Increased user contributions will be required for some services to continue. Contributions towards home care are likely to rise.
County Council services – what your council tax goes towards:
- Social care for older people and adults with disabilities - £421.77
- Children's services including social care (excluding schools) - £231.91
- Repair and maintenance of roads, public transport and planning - £117.92
- Culture, communities and other services such as libraries - £93.40
- Borrowing costs - £74.26
- Waste management - £52.07
- Future inflation, contingencies and reserves - £30.02
- Capital costs paid for from revenue - £16.53
- Hampshire County Council's band D council tax - £1,037.88
What you told us matters most
At a budget consultation event last year you said:
“We thought support for children and young people was very important because that’s the future, keeping things together.”
“Care for people – I think that’s something that needs to be kept within Hampshire [County Council]. Whether it’s just an overview or whether it’s full involvement… Because you need to protect the people that can’t really protect themselves."
For questions on our budget contact: County Treasurer’s Department, Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8UB.
For information on council tax benefit see your council tax bill or contact your district council.