As tough budget decisions are being made for 2014/15, the County Council asks residents which services they value the most
Monday, 11 November 2013
Hampshire County Council wants residents' views to help inform the final budget decisions for next year. Faced with the challenge of finding a further £90 million savings by 2015 (12 per cent of the Council's budget), the Council is asking residents to rank services according to which they value the most.
Hampshire has already lost 43 per cent of its Government grant over four years and faces further unavoidable cuts, with the period of austerity set to continue well beyond 2015.
Savings of £130 million in Hampshire's budget have already been made, mainly by reducing the cost of running services and embracing new ways of working, including sharing services and making better use of public buildings. Reserves are being used to fund the development of more efficient ways to deliver services.
Council Leader Roy Perry says he does not want any rise in the County's council tax next year because he recognises the financial pressures residents are facing. That would mean keeping Hampshire's council tax at the same level for the fifth year running - the lowest rate of all county councils in the South East region, despite receiving one of the lowest grants per head from Government.
Keeping the council tax down, makes the budget challenge more difficult when demand for some services continues to rise, particularly from the growing number of elderly and vulnerable adults in the county.
Councillor Perry said: "With less money, fewer staff and increased demand on our services, we can't afford to deliver them in the same way. The County Council is a complex and big business, covering over 300 different services many of which are absolutely vital.
"There are some things we have a statutory duty to provide and there are other services which are discretionary. We are genuinely interested in residents' views - to help us understand what they value most before we make tough decisions on where the money goes. I hope that residents of all ages will take the opportunity to participate and in doing so, help their elected councillors make the right budget decisions."
All of the survey responses will be analysed and the results will be used to inform published proposals to the County Council's Cabinet, who will be considering the Budget on 7 February 2014. The final budget proposals will be decided by the Full County Council on 20 February 2014.
- The survey is online until 29 November and paper copies can be found in libraries and other public venues across the county