Fears services in Portsmouth could suffer if government cuts continue, despite council's 'sensible' plans

FEARS have been raised that services in Portsmouth will continue to be 'cut to the bone' by 'terrible' government slashes, despite the council's long-term budget plans.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 3:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:20 pm

During the next financial year Portsmouth council will have to make savings of £2.5m within its revenue budget to ensure services in the city are properly funded.

As set out in its budget report released last night (Jan 27) the savings will come from a combination of efficiencies – such as renegotiating contracts - and income generation.

Although this is a small proportion of the £102m in cuts faced by the authority since 2011, it is thought the reductions will continue with an extra £1m in savings needed every year for the next three years.

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Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson fears the authority could continue to suffer from lack of government funding. Picture: Sarah Standing (191119-2516)

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Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'We have been cut to the bone because every year central government sitting in London makes these cuts to our budget.

'There are so many things we would love to do in this city that we just can't afford to do. We would love to improve youth services across the city to give young people something constructive to do.

'And we never know if there might be more cuts in the future.'

The report also highlights uncertainty about how much cash might come from government for 2021 as a new funding formula is under consideration.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: 'It has been reported this weekend that the government is trying to change the funding formula for local councils. This would mean Portsmouth would suffer because we are in an area of high need and would therefore get less money.

'I am happy that over the years we have had sensible long-term budget proposals to make sure that we can survive terrible cuts year on year.

'Other councils are not in as good a position. Southampton needs to find around £7m this year.'

Residents will also face a 3.99 per cent hike in council tax (not including precepts set by the police and fire department) as of April, with two per cent of that ring-fenced for adult social care costs which will amount to roughly £1.6m.

Along with adult social care, children's social care continues to account for some of the council's largest outgoings.

'We have found £3m extra for that because these are the most vulnerable in the whole of society and it's not right that we don't fund it properly,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

Proposed efficiencies in the council include £200,000 from renegotiating a waste disposal contract and £150,000 from the change of the coroner service to Hampshire County Council.

The council is also expecting £270,000 in income from its retail park Dunsbury Park.

Councillors will discuss the budget report at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 4 and then at full council the following week.