Now frontline services face axe in Hampshire for new bid to save £98m

County council leader Roy Perry
County council leader Roy Perry
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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FRONT-LINE services are facing cuts as Hampshire County Council fights to shave nearly £100m off its spending.

Alongside the cuts, around 950 posts lost through people leaving or retiring each year will not be filled.

County councillors signed off a report yesterday that agreed to reduce the council’s spending by £98m by March 2017.

This is the fourth wave of cutbacks since 2008 – belt-tightening that has seen 2,400 jobs cut and £240m slashed from the budget.

Chief executive Andrew Smith said these new savings would be made by looking at front-line services, as well as cutting back office spending and making more of its services digital.

Mr Smith said: ‘It’s a low blow.’

He said the council would be looking to ‘transform the workforce’ by retraining and redeploying them.

Leader Roy Perry said 700 staff leave the council every year and 250 people retire each year and will not be replaced.

He said the council intends to cut its spending, use more voluntary workers, share more services and to save within its supply chain – particularly around adults’ and children’s social care.

Cllr Perry reiterated the role of the authority in working closely with health and social care providers, so services are better co-ordinated and aligned to the needs of service users, and savings could be made.

Cllr Perry said: ‘It’s crucial that we plot a careful route through to 2017.

‘I can recall sitting in this room being told that we were approaching dry land but dry land appears to have moved out of reach as it is a constant endeavour by governments to keep the public expenditure under control so that as a nation we do not keep adding to our debt.’

£765m capital programme will add to savings

CUTBACKS at Hampshire County Council will be supported by its capital programme, which at £765m over three years is the largest ever injection of public sector capital.

Cllr Roy Perry said: ‘Our strategy has achieved more than £200m of savings to date, while continuing to deliver quality services at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.

‘I well understand the government’s need to bring public expenditure back under control but with further grant reductions to come and no let-up in demand for care services decisions around future spend are becoming increasingly difficult.

‘We will continue to make further efficiencies and maximise return on every pound spent, while at the same time finding further opportunities to create new and sustainable ways of providing quality public services.’