Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

£750 million economic growth in County budget, with zero tax increase

Friday 21 February 2014

Households in Hampshire will see no increase in their Council Tax again this year, as the County Council set its precept for 2014/15 at the same level for the fifth year in a row - keeping it the lowest in the south east.

The Council's Leader, Councillor Roy Perry, said the budget would deliver value for money, prioritise support for increasing numbers of elderly and young people who need help, and freeze the council tax, making Hampshire the envy of other counties.

Residents in the average band D property will be paying £1037.88 towards the £1.45billion revenue budget for County Council services, which has had to be reduced by 12 per cent overall.

Despite a 43 per cent reduction in Government grant over four years, the Council was able to plan a further £10 million for adult social care and safeguard expenditure on the most vulnerable children. At the same time, the budget will support an unprecedented three quarters of a billion pounds capital programme for growth and investment in Hampshire's economy and infrastructure, creating hundreds of private sector jobs.

Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry, said it was the early action to find ways to save costs and deliver services differently - securing efficiencies faster than the decline in grant - that resulted in Hampshire having significant opportunities for one-off investments, like the £20 million committed to lever further funding for faster broadband in rural communities who are currently missing out.

Although Hampshire receives one of the lowest grants per head from Government, successful lobbying through the County Councils Network, and meetings with Ministers had led to an improvement in the Council tax freeze grant and a portion of the New Homes Bonus will continue to remain in Hampshire. This extra grant will specifically be used to generate an additional £12 million per year for the next three years, to maintain the progress in strengthening Hampshire's roads, as part of the £139 million committed to the structural maintenance of roads and bridges in the capital programme.

Councillor Perry said: "While other councils are less fortunate and are only looking at cuts and reductions, Hampshire is in a unique and strong position to make targeted and significant improvements to services, and improve its efficiency and value for money even further. For example, educational choice for young people through £149 million for building future school places, care choice for the elderly through £45 million to attract millions more in private funding for Extra-Care, infrastructure for our country parks to make them pay for themselves, resources to invest in partnership projects, and the means to fill in more potholes caused by ice and cold weather in the last couple of years, and the wettest winter on record.

"We have used our efficiencies to actually fund improvements to services without having to ask the people of Hampshire to find more money from their pockets. Government grant has been cut by nearly half and we have to live within our means. I hope that by keeping council tax at the same level for five years, we are doing what we can to help households live within their means, while providing them with some of the best services."

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