Three quarters of a billion pounds investment into fabric of Hampshire
Friday, 07 February 2014
Against a backdrop of low Government grant and the lowest Council Tax in the South East, Hampshire County Council's Cabinet today nevertheless agreed a capital programme of growth and investment in Hampshire's economy and infrastructure of around three quarters of a billion pounds.
At £668.7M, it's the biggest capital investment of all county councils in the south east and it's set to build thousands of quality school places and plough £130M into road and bridge maintenance. This unprecedented programme will lever hundreds of millions of pounds of private funding into the care facilities that people want, £20M in broadband to rural communities who are missing out in the commercial market and further pump priming into the fabric of Hampshire to boost its economic growth and cultural wellbeing, all of which help keep Hampshire a great place to live.
Despite a 43% cut in the grant it receives from Government since 2010 Hampshire County Council will still manage to freeze its Council Tax and continue to charge residents the lowest in the south east and one of the lowest in the country, under the budget proposals agreed by the Cabinet today (7 February).
The Government grant per head for Hampshire in 2014/15 will be £116 per head - compared to £191 per head a county such as Kent receives. Councillor Roy Perry, Council Leader, said: "I think there needs to be much more clarity from Government about how these grant formulae are calculated. However I am pleased that representations the Council and I personally have made to Government, for instance in my meeting with Eric Pickles last October and only last week with Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis, that we have got some extra help. Particularly, there has been an improvement in the grant to help freeze Council Tax and a portion of the New Homes Bonus is now coming to county councils like Hampshire. This helped us with £6million extra which we have committed to road maintenance and improvement."
The Budget proposals will now be recommended to the Full Council on 20 February. It would see the County Council's share of the Band D Council Tax set at £1037.88 for the fifth successive year.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: "This budget provides a record three quarters of a billion pounds into the fabric of Hampshire communities, creating growth and a level of investment that will create hundreds of private sector jobs from construction, to maintenance and supplies. All this while residents will still be paying the lowest for their County Council services like social care, schools, highways and libraries than anywhere else in the South East - and with no increase for the last four years.
"Despite needing to make over £230m savings, we are adding to the budget for adult care, safeguarding the expenditure on the most vulnerable children and, thanks to our lobbying through the County Councils Network, will be using funding Government has made available through the New Homes Bonus to continue our investment into the long-term condition of Hampshire's roads.
"Hampshire has been sensible and realistic. We've managed the budget in a planned way to give us the time to reshape the way that services are provided, working in new ways to deliver the same quality services, or better in some cases, with less money, thus reducing pressures on frontline services. By starting our efficiency work early we have released money to invest; broadband is one example. Our aim is to maintain the best local services while living within our means, and keep the Council Tax at the same level for the fifth consecutive year."