Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Pressures on non-statutory services as budget has to be balanced

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Leader of the County Council, Cllr Roy Perry, issued the following statement on 24 January, following his Policy and Resources Decision Day where he was asked to consider proposals for how services funded from the Policy and Resources budget would meet the 12% savings required as part of the £93M budget reduction the Council must make by 2015 due to cuts in Government funding.

The budget proposals will be recommended to the Cabinet on 7 February for consideration, before the Full County Council decides the budget on 20 February.

In approving the proposals, Councillor Perry said: "We are proud of our ACSOs and I am in absolutely no doubt about the good work that they have done and I am full of admiration for how they have operated, but I need to balance a budget and address a £90million pressure on that budget, which is a huge sum.

"The County Council has legal responsibilities to provide certain services, and in those cases can be the only statutory provider. In addition, the County Council often funds and delivers non-statutory services as in the case of the Accredited Community Safety Service, but in the current economic climate, these types of discretionary services are increasingly coming under pressure.

"Not through our own choice or making, we are now being forced to make difficult decisions about how we rebalance our budget in response to significant cuts to our funding from Central Government and to avoid raising Council Tax. We have prioritised and protected funding for the children in our care and for the elderly who have to turn to us, so it is to the non statutory services where other bodies have the major or shared responsibility that we must look for service economies.

"This means doing things differently and finding the most cost-effective solutions to delivering services, hence the proposals being put forward, reluctantly, to potentially cease the discretionary Community Safety Service.

"We have been very pleased to have been able to fund the provision of the Accredited Community Safety Service over the last decade, at a time when resources have been available. It is fair to say that for the last ten years, in funding Accredited Community Safety Officers, we have been complementing the existing activities of the Police, who have the main responsibility for community safety.

"The 33 ACSOs, although clearly valued by local communities, represent only one per cent of the total capacity of the Police's 333 PCSOs and over 3,000 uniformed police officers, and therefore can be regarded as valuable but minority players in community safety as a whole.

"We have to concentrate our resources on those people and services for which we are the only provider.

"Any final decision to cease the Community Safety Service would be subject to consultation, including further discussions with staff and Trades Unions. Options would also form part of our on going conversations with the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable, in maintaining policing services across Hampshire, as well as other organisations such as our highways contractor.

"I was in Hambledon last Sunday and was most impressed by the community spirit across the whole village and of course was pleased to see the help the County Council could give. This was not just with ACSOs but, for example, with highways officers, our contractors, Adult Services and our emergency planning officers - a very good team effort.

"The County Council's Emergency Planning service, together with use of our contractors, will continue to assist local communities when help is needed most, particularly during periods of flooding, storms, and snow. I will also be exploring ways we can improve community resilience, through further discussions with our partners in the district councils, the Fire Service and the Army - collectively, helping to keep Hampshire a safe place."

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