‘Daunting’ £140m cuts set to hit county council services

Picture: Malcolm Wells
Picture: Malcolm Wells
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TOUGH decisions are set to be made as a council draws up plans to make £140m in savings.

Hampshire County Council is set to be forced into drastic savings in order to balance its books by 2019/20.

The local authority has had to make £340m in savings since 2008 but is now set to decide on which services will be affected in the toughest round of cuts yet.

Its cabinet meets on Tuesday to begin drawing up the plans that are likely to see all services take a shaving in the foreseeable future.

Writing in a report ahead of the meeting, chief executive John Coughlan said: ‘There is no doubt from early planning and opportunity assessment work completed by departments that this is set to test the council like no other programme before.

‘The saving targets are daunting. Delivery in full, solely from cost reduction and transformational work will see every area of council business affected and impacted. There will inevitably be tough decisions ahead and the council’s approach to risk will necessarily need to change.’

The Conservative-led council pushed through an increase of 4.99 per cent in its council tax to address adult social care funding pressures earlier this year.

Mr Coughlan added in some areas ‘services will be delivered closer to the acceptable minimum’ required by law.

Councillor Roy Perry, leader of the council, said: ‘Our finances remain under immense pressure as demand continues to grow for services. All of this means that the council needs to find more radical ways of making ends meet while ensuring that we protect vital services.’

He added the position was ‘worsened by the loss of the central government revenue support grant by 2020.

Liberal Democrat councillor Roger Price, who represents Portchester, said: ‘The cuts over recent years have been disastrous and cut service to the bone.

‘These austerity measures are crippling and I would imagine that all services across the board are set to take their fair share with even social care taking a hit.’