Hampshire council tax rise on the cards as £80m budget cuts take another step forward

PLANS to plug an £80m black hole in a council's budget have taken a significant step forward - but it looks like residents could be hit in the pockets.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:15 pm
Hampshire County Council. Picture: David George

Hampshire County Council's cabinet agreed yesterday on a range of plans to slash the budget by April 2023.

But included in these plans is a proposed 3.99 per cent increase on council tax from the county council.

These plans will now go before the full council on November 4 for a final decision.

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The council has pinned the need for budget cuts on reduced government funding and the increasing demand for core services, such as social care.

County council leader, Cllr Keith Mans, said: 'The council has a strong track record of financial stewardship alongside high performance, and we continue to apply these strengths to the ongoing budget pressures.

'Our ambition in this round is to achieve these two-year savings by managing inflation and demand pressures across services, rather than reducing overall spending in key areas.

'This will also enable us to consider additional spending in the budget of a further £7m in the maintenance of Hampshire’s roads, over £3m per annum to boost children’s social care and investing up to £22m in our capital programme to support the social care needs of younger adults and those leaving hospital.'

As previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, £40.6m is set to be cut from the adult services and public health budget, with a futher £20m slashed from children's services and £3.3m from culture and communities.

A six-week public consultation was run between June 7 and July 18, asking members of the public for their thoughts on the budget cuts.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has also been felt, with councils having to spend more to keep vital services afloat.

Cllr Mans added that there are 'some extremely hard decisions' ahead for the council.

'We face our biggest challenge to date – and regardless of government’s recent announcement of adult social care reforms, which do not address at all the burgeoning longer-term costs from continued growing demand within this sector,' he said.

'Government must take action to address the national issue of growth in adults’ and children’s social care, as it’s simply not possible to keep reducing services to meet growth costs in others – a concern also shared by residents.'

Following full council and potential further consultation, the budget cuts will be prepared for a final consideration in February next year.

The county covers all of Hampshire except the Portsmouth and Southampton unitary authority areas. It imposes the lion’s share of tax in the area, alongside borough and district councils, the police and parish councils.