Council Tax freeze and strong foundations for Hampshire's budget
Friday, 11 January 2013
The Council Tax for Hampshire County Council's services, which is among the lowest of all county councils in England, is likely to be frozen at the same level for the fourth year running as the Council develops its 2013/14 budget.
This is despite Hampshire receiving one of the lowest grants per head of population from Government and a 43 per cent cut in grant over four years - the biggest reduction compared to other counties.
Hampshire County Council took early action to respond to the national deficit reduction programme, achieving savings of £100million over the last two years. That's put the Council in a very strong position to tackle future funding challenges, which are expected to be even tougher from 2015/16.
The Council will now use the next two years to further develop new ways of working, transforming the way some services are delivered to make them more sustainable so that Hampshire residents can continue to receive the quality services they need, at lowest cost.
All Council services from social care to roads, transport, education, libraries and countryside, are now having to find efficiencies that will reduce their budgets by two per cent to help meet the major pressures in some areas.
Proposals for achieving this without impacting on frontline service delivery and with limited need for any staff reductions will be presented to Executive Members over the next week.
The Leader of the Council, Ken Thornber, has expressed his wish to ensure that older people, vulnerable children and other disadvantaged groups continue to be protected. He wants Adults and Children's social care to get more money in their budgets to cope with a big increase in child protection plans and an ageing population whose care needs are becoming more complex.
Budget recommendations for each Cabinet portfolio area will be presented to Executive Members and will be reviewed by Select Committees before submission to Cabinet, which meets on 8 February. Final recommendations will be made to the full County Council on 21 February. If Council Tax is frozen, Band D tax would be £1,037.88.
Council Leader Ken Thornber, said: "Our early action has helped protect front line resources and we have met our savings target of £100million in two years. These savings, plus the money we set aside to cushion Hampshire residents from the impact of the huge grant losses we knew were coming, stand us in good stead to tackle the tough times ahead.
"As we continue to drive out further efficiencies and deliver quality services at lowest cost, it also puts us in a strong position to lay the ground for future investment, so our focus is not just on efficiency, but also on economic growth and improvement to protect and strengthen Hampshire's future".