Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Cabinet to examine transformation plans to tackle £90M deficit

Monday, 28 October 2013

Hampshire County Council will examine plans to reduce its spending by a further £90M when the Cabinet meets on Monday (28 October 2013).

That's the scale of the challenge facing the Council as it looks to meet a forecast £90M gap in funding by 2015 due to cuts in Government grants and more people needing support, particularly social care. This comes on top of the £130M savings the Council has already delivered over the last three years and the total adds up to around 25 per cent of the Council's spending.

On Monday the Cabinet will examine a progress report on the Council's 'Transformation to 2015'; programme. Council Leader Roy Perry said finding a further 12 per cent cut in spending across all services by April 2015 was going to be a huge challenge, but one the Council was in a strong position to tackle.

He also declared his intention to avoid any increase in council tax for residents. The Council was not planning any major outsourcing of services and planned to 'stay in business'.

Councillor Perry said it was impossible until early next year to know how many jobs would be affected next year but he said it was very unlikely to be as high as the 1,800 figure that had been quoted by some councillors in recent headlines, which Cllr Perry added seemed to have been an exaggeration for publicity seeking purposes.

Voluntary redundancy would be used as a way of reducing staffing costs and minimising compulsory job losses. So far voluntary redundancy exercises have cut the Council's pay bill by £46million and led to around 20 compulsory redundancies. The current change programmes around IT, the Council's Integrated Business Centre and greater use of digital channels will all impact on the number of staff required in future. The Council would be seeking a 10% reduction in senior management, on top of the 25% cut that had already been made.

He said: "We haven't taken our foot off the pedal in the work to reshape services to secure savings and £75M towards this target has already been identified - mainly through changing and embracing new ways of working, including sharing services with other public sector partners.

"The use of reserves continues to play an important part of the strategy to close the gap. They are being used to pay for the transformation of services and to drive out efficiencies for this next stage of savings. It's my intention that we avoid any increase in Council Tax next year, which will mean keeping it at the same level for the fifth year in a row and one of the lowest in the country, despite us receiving one of the lowest grants per head from Government.

We cannot be precise about staff figures until early next year, closer to the budget preparation. A lot of activity is currently being undertaken across the Council to find efficiencies through a number of carefully targeted work streams. These have been designed to maximise efficiencies and reduce overall levels of cost - which in turn, will safeguard more jobs.

"It should also be noted that this council is not seeking to make any major outsourcing of services; we plan to stay in business and protect jobs as far as possible to give the best local services to our community, while living within our means."

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