Laying the groundwork for future financial challenges
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Hampshire County Council is bracing itself for the challenge of further transformation amid Government's strong indications of further cuts to public sector funding.
The Cabinet has been considering further ways to insulate Hampshire from these impacts and to continue to minimise any frontline spending reductions.
The Government has indicated that there will be further cuts to public sector funding beyond their current four year Comprehensive Spending Review. The Council's approach of modernising services and looking at alternative operating models, including increasing shared and sold services has been developed to put the Council in a strong position to cope with future national and local financial pressures.
Hampshire County Council has already managed to reduce its costs by £30million this year, which is nearly two thirds of the total savings it needs to make for 2012/13, as a result of Government funding cuts and other pressures.
Last year the Council not only rose to the challenge of cutting its costs by £55million, it exceeded this target, putting it in a good position to secure the further £45million in savings required this financial year.
Savings have been secured through a number of measures designed to avoid reductions in frontline services. This includes reducing office space, restructuring departments, renegotiating contracts to secure even better deals for the council tax payer and reducing senior management costs. The £30million savings for this year have been delivered through the full year impact of decisions taken in 2011/12, or by generating greater savings than predicted, through initiatives agreed as part of the budget setting process in February, for 2012/13.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said:
"In its Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government set out four years of significant reductions in funding for councils - with Hampshire seeing its grant cut by 14.3% in 11/12 and 10.4% in 12/13. This meant we have had to go way beyond making standard efficiencies in order to cut our expenditure by around £100m.
"Rather than indiscriminately cutting services, we've established a cost reduction programme that looks to restructure the Council and modernise and share services - with the aim of protecting front-line resources. We also intend to make the reductions broadly over two years, rather than four, to reduce uncertainty and put the Council in a strong position for the future.
"I am pleased to say that we are ahead of the game in terms of progress against our target for this year and our success last year has freed up funds to help offset the costs of restructuring, technology and training that is required to deliver the changes and to become more business like in our approach. It is a credit to our staff, that while making unprecedented levels of savings and experiencing considerable organisational change, the Council continues to perform strongly and deliver quality services."