County agrees to freeze council tax for another year

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THE council tax precept for Hampshire County Council has been frozen for a fourth year.

Councillors agreed at yesterday’s cabinet meeting in Winchester not to increase the council’s portion of the bill to help already financially-stretched households.

It comes as Havant Borough Council also agreed to keep council tax at the same figure as it has been since 2009, taking advantage of the government’s council tax freeze grant to local authorities.

Officers in Havant also juggled the books to put almost £1m in reserves.

Ken Thornber, leader of the county council, said: ‘We’ve taken the government council tax grant of £5.3m, but with all the reductions in government support we have lost something like £19m to £20m for the next year in terms of government grants.

‘The £5.3m goes a little way towards reducing that, but we have a deficit in our budget of £5.5m and we’re taking some of our reserves to fill that gap.’

It means a Band D property will pay £1,037.88 towards Hampshire’s portion of the council tax.

The budget also includes five new child social work teams at a cost of £2.5m a year, and a further £4m added to the adult social care budget for the next two years.

The proposals are expected to be agreed by the full council on February 21. Other local authorities in the area are still waiting to set their amounts. But Havant Borough Council has agreed to freeze council tax for a fourth year.

The move comes despite officers recommending an almost two per cent increase for households.

Havant’s Conservative-controlled council’s cabinet made its decision earlier this week.

Cllr Tony Briggs, leader of the borough council, said: ‘Early on in the year we certainly took the view it was going to be very difficult and we were facing a considerable deficit in our budget.

‘Through the excellent work our officers have done in looking at their budgets we now have before us a budget which is actually looking to put some money in reserves.’

The decision is likely to be agreed at the full council meeting of February 20.