Government Minister praises Hampshire's 'pioneering steps' and 'smart savings'
Friday, 20 September 2013
A top local government minister was in Hampshire this week to see how the County Council is leading the reform of public services.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis was in Winchester to learn about Hampshire's pioneering work to tackle increased demands on the public purse with new ways of working that deliver better results with less money and keep Hampshire's council tax one of the lowest in the country.
Hampshire County Council is one of nine councils picked by Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles to be part of the new Public Service Transformation Network to share expertise and learning as it works with partners and local communities to manage demand for public services and jointly invest in long term solutions.
Mr Lewis was updated on a range of Hampshire's initiatives, including the sharing of back-office support services with Police and Fire; public services brought together into a one-stop shop to offer better value for taxpayers, like Havant Plaza and the Vertex building in Basingstoke and work with the NHS to establish joined up health and social care services. Hampshire has also used government funding to help freeze council tax for the last three years. A further two years of funding have been made available.
He also heard about the progress being made across Hampshire with the Troubled Families programme, where intervention is turning around the lives of those placing the highest demand on the most costly services.
Another new area of work is a pioneering scheme, jointly with Havant and Test Valley Borough Councils, aimed at strengthening communities and improving the way local services are co-ordinated and accessed. This will see public, private and voluntary sectors working together in a way that will help people get support from the right agency at the right time and in the right way.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Every bit of the public service can be improved so that it works better for residents and costs them less. The pioneering steps Hampshire are taking with their local partners to share back offices, transform local services and tackle troubled families are making a big difference to people's lives.
"By taking advantage of the Government's council tax freeze grant over the last three years, Hampshire is shining a light on how councils can make smart, sensible savings and deliver better value services for local people without charging taxpayers more."
Council Leader Roy Perry said: "Hampshire is at the heart of public service reform. Demand for public services is set to grow higher, not least of all, due to an ageing society. Having taken early action to save more than £130M by reducing the costs of our services, we are well placed to achieve further economies . With less money and fewer staff, and signs that this period of austerity will be with us for some years to come, we have seized the opportunities to examine what we provide and how we deliver it in future. We want to share in the Government's ambitious work so that we see a significant reduction in reliance on public funding but with improved results for residents This network will help us go further and faster.
"Hampshire already has an excellent record - proven by the fact that it sets one of the lowest council taxes and delivers some of the highest performing services without having to rely on a big government grant.
"I was also pleased to show Brandon Lewis the Winchester Great Hall, one of England's finest mediaeval halls and pointed out this could even be considered as an ideal seat for an English Parliament should such Parliament ever be established."