We have frozen our part of your Council Tax again this year, so you are still paying the lowest for your County Council services like social care, highways and libraries than anywhere else in the south east – and at the same rate for five consecutive years.
We have managed to freeze Council Tax despite Hampshire’s grant from the Government being cut by 43 per cent since 2010. This has been possible because we planned well in advance to manage these cuts (and those yet to come) in the most appropriate way, making millions of pounds of savings. This has also given us time to reshape the way services are delivered so that we can continue to meet the needs of residents.
Those needs are increasing, particularly for social care for both young and old, so finding the money to protect the most vulnerable residents, while having to make over £230 million savings by 2015 hasn’t been easy, however we are in a stronger position than many other councils.
It is not possible to remove over £230 million of spending from an already efficient organisation and keep our Council Tax at the same level for five years, without scaling back some services – some we have a statutory duty to deliver for you, while others are optional and not critical. We will be consulting on some of the proposed changes over the coming months. We are doing our best to reduce the pressure of Government funding cuts on frontline services by working in new ways. A good example is our joint working with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary. A business centre is being set up to share support services, removing duplication and saving money. We are also saving more than £2 million a year by reducing our office space by a third, sharing buildings with other public services.
All the time our Council Tax has been frozen, the Council has invested additional money through our capital budget (what we spend on assets rather than running costs) into Hampshire’s infrastructure, to support the county’s economic and social wellbeing. Our four-year capital programme from 2013/14 onwards is worth over £750 million.
Investments are also being made in frontline services to enable us to continue to provide more at the same or better quality, for less money. Given the on-going pressures on social care budgets, the focus for services like museums, libraries and country parks will be on maximising income and changing ways of working in, and with, communities to maintain sustainable services. We are investing to ensure our country parks will be financially self-sufficient, safeguarding them for the future, and we are moving towards the formation of the Solent Cultural Trust in partnership with Winchester City Council to deliver arts, museum and heritage services.
Our focus remains to deliver high quality, cost-effective public services which:
We know that residents value services which help vulnerable and older people, support the economy and maintain roads and pavements – all of which contribute to making Hampshire an excellent place in which to live and work.
Hampshire County Council’s part of Band D Council Tax remains at £1,037.88
Reserves can only be spent once, so using them to support the budget can only temporarily delay a cut, which we would still have to find the next year and the year after that. Reserves are being spent in ways that generate savings and improve services over the longer term. Examples include the development of Extra Care assisted living accommodation, and the new technology to support shared back office functions with other public sector organisations. These are investments that allow the Council to modernise and develop new ways to provide services, while still securing quality and better value for money, which in the long-term, protect more services.
We will be integrating more with Health services to complement preventative work being undertaken to support older people. This work has a focus on helping people live independently for longer in their own homes, reducing demand for care and freeing up resources for those with more complex needs, including dementia. We are continuing to expand the amount of Extra Care assisted living accommodation, which enables both older residents and adults with learning disabilities to keep living in a home of their own, with the reassurance of 24 hour care and support being available on site. In Children’s Services we will continue to ensure the most vulnerable children are protected and cared for. There will be a greater emphasis on preventative work with the creation of ‘early help’ hubs to support children and families in need.
We are helping to provide faster broadband to rural areas and helping Hampshire people into work on. £54 million is being spent on road maintenance as we recognise that good transport infrastructure is vital to the economy. In addition to this our total capital budget of over three quarters of a billion pounds over four years will create hundreds of jobs in the construction industry.
This article is about the Hampshire County Council element of Council Tax. Your Council Tax bill also includes amounts for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, your local district or borough council and, in many areas, a parish or town council.
For more details about the County Council’s budget please visit our website: www.hants.gov.uk/budget
Post: Corporate Finance
Hampshire County Council
The Castle, Winchester
Hampshire, SO23 8UB
Please contact your district council if you have any queries about your Council Tax bill or Council Tax support.