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Benefits of investment are key to stability in Hampshire

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Household waste is paying dividends for Hampshire taxpayers thanks to the collaborative partnership between the County Council, other local councils across the county and a private contractor.

Improved recycling is lowering the amount of waste going to landfill thanks to investment in high quality facilities like the new £1million household waste recycling centre at Havant, where building work has just got underway. Hampshire is at the top of the table for diverting waste from landfill, which avoids costly landfill taxes, while the investment that Hampshire made in three energy recovery facilities means waste that can't be recycled is generating enough electricity to supply around 53,000 or ten per cent of Hampshire's households.

The ethos of seeing waste as a resource and a source of income is typical of the forward-looking approach that underpins the County Council's continued financial resilience.

The saving forms part of a positive out turn on the County Council's revenue budget that was reported to the first meeting of the new Cabinet today (24 June 2013). The County Council has consistently implemented efficiency and savings proposals ahead of time, as well as achieving the full planned savings programme. This provides additional resources during the year and means that risk contingencies that were prudently set aside are not required at the end of the year.

This success provides resources for investment which allows the Council to modernise and develop new ways to deliver services, while securing quality and value, as is the case with the development of Extra Care housing. 'Invest to save' reserves have been used to fund the first phase of a £45M Extra Care programme, helping to meet the changing care needs of an ageing population while giving more independence and choice to prevent the need for more expensive long term care.

Savings generated through a £100M efficiency and cost reduction programme over the last two years have also been used to generate more money for frontline services, like the purchase of new accommodation that enables the Council to rationalise its office space, or new technology to support shared services with other public sector partners.

The County Council's new Cabinet considered the next stage in its transformation programme today in preparation for further cuts in Government financial support in the face of continued demands on services, particularly social care.

Council Leader Roy Perry said Hampshire had managed to avoid urgent or drastic decisions to address growing deficits, which had resulted in some councils having to outsource some services or stop them altogether.

"It's our aim to maintain and enhance the prosperity of Hampshire residents, the quality of the environment and our services, especially for the young and old, supporting economic growth and keeping our Council Tax among the lowest in the country. That means planning prudently to align our service expenditure with reducing levels of grant support. Our successful track record has proven that having resources in reserves to invest in redesigning services is a major benefit, particularly where such investment leads to lower costs and better outputs.

"Our challenge for the coming year will include looking at how we can build on income opportunities, partnering and sharing and using our new public health duties, while continuing high performance."

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