CSR 2013 - Response from Hampshire County Council
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Responding to the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review , Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council said:
"Hampshire has been planning for these further reductions for some time, recognising that councils have to change the way they operate and we started early, taking £130million out of our spend in the last two years through efficiencies and cutting costs and we reinvested some of that money into redesigning services so that they cost less but give better outputs. Examples are the first phase of a £45M Extra Care programme that's helping to meet the changing needs of Hampshire's elderly population and the rationalisation of office accommodation so that we're now using around 300,000 ft sq less space then we were three years ago and saving £2.5M a year on running costs as a result.
Prudent planning and investments have put us in a strong position to tackle the further reductions in Government grant in a planned way over a sustained period of time by using savings carefully to transform services to be a provider of modern, efficient and sustainable services for the future. Our willingness to act early and decisively is what the County Cabinet agreed to do on Monday.
The latest anticipated cuts to revenue support grant from Government, alongside the potential loss of council tax freeze grant given in previous years, which was one-off, adds up to £32.2M for Hampshire. On top of that there is inflation and, due to demographic changes, demand for services continues to grow, in particular for adult social care, so our target savings up to 2015 are actually around £80M.
So far we've managed to avoid any urgent or drastic decisions to address the budget deficit that has seen some councils having to stop some services altogether. We will build on the success of our budgeting to date to plan the next stages to align our spend to available resources. We have to live within our means just as all prudent residents do. These are difficult times but our success in reducing the costs of our services puts us in a strong position for the future, much stronger than many other authorities.
Our challenge is to look at how the Council can build on income opportunities, partnering and sharing and using our new public health duties, while continuing high performance. I want to maintain and enhance the prosperity of Hampshire residents, the quality of environment and our services, especially for the young and old, supporting economic growth and keeping council tax bills as low as possible.
There has been comment about councils' use of reserves to make up for loss of Government grant. If we didn't reduce our spending we would quickly exhaust the reserves and have no means in the long term to reduce our expenditure. The majority of reserves are fully committed to being spent in revenue and capital programmes and are in no way 'spare'. Rather than using reserves to prop up the budget on a short term basis, we are using reserves to generate savings and improve services over the longer term by redesigning services and investing in technology and other solutions that make services more modern and efficient.