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County aims to keep tax on hold for fourth year

 

HAMPSHIRE County Council is aiming to freeze its share of the council tax again for the fourth year running.

Looking at the proposed budget for 2013/14, the ruling Tories are preparing to keep the tax at £1037.88 for a band D property.

This is despite Hampshire receiving one of the lowest grants per head of population from government and a 43 per cent cut in grant over four years.

All council services from social care to roads, transport, education, libraries and countryside, are now having to find ways to cut budgets by two per cent to help meet the major pressures.

Council Leader Ken Thornber, said: ‘Our early action has helped protect frontline resources and we have met our savings target of £100m in two years. These savings, plus the money we set aside to cushion Hampshire residents from the impact of the huge grant losses we knew were coming, stand us in good stead to tackle the tough times ahead.

‘As we continue to drive out further efficiencies and deliver quality services at lowest cost, it also puts us in a strong position to lay the ground for future investment, so our focus is not just on efficiency, but also on economic growth and improvement to protect and strengthen Hampshire’s future.’

Last March the county published a report claiming that a recruitment freeze and redundancy programme resulted in 1,469 fewer council jobs. But Cllr Keith House, leader of the Lib Dem group said: ‘Most councils have frozen their tax for the past three years because of the government so there’s no great shakes in that.

‘In fact with all the money they’ve got sloshing around, it’s almost a surprise they haven’t cut it – not that I’m suggesting we do.

‘What they can’t get away with is claiming there has been no reduction in services, whether it’s been in libraries’ hours, youth workers, reduction in children’s centres, and on it goes.

‘They can’t claim there have been no consequences.’

Budget recommendations for will go before the cabinet on February 8.

The final recommendations will be made to the full council and a decision made on February 21.

 

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