County praised for cash reserve

PC James Street

Hampshire police officer sacked for stealing £2,000 from evidence lock-up

THE GOVERNMENT'S minister for housing and local government has praised Hampshire County Council for its financial approach.

Grant Shapps MP wrote to council leader, Cllr Ken Thornber, to congratulate it on its use of reserve funding to combat public spending cuts.

The council has a reserve of 130.7m, though 109.2m is set aside to cover equal pay litigation from former employees, insurance, and council tax reductions for 2011-12.

It has also set aside cash for invest-to-save schemes, which help public bodies to unite services.

It has a general reserve of 21.5m, around three per cent of its annual budget.

Mr Shapps also praised the council for delivering 'high quality services while keeping down costs and council tax'.

The secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, has called on councils to use reserves to help manage the consequences of the economic crisis.

Cllr Thornber said: 'We have earmarked sums to help ensure our residents continue to receive value for money and quality services in the face of unprecedented financial challenges.'