Hampshire County Council to increase emergency reserves

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has been criticised for increasing its reserves by millions of pounds, while laying off staff and cutting services.

Trades union Unison has hit out at the council’s decision to pay £48m into its reserve fund this year, increasing the ‘emergency’ cash total to £214m.

Although the council must hold a reserve, and faces millions of pounds of equal pay compensation claims from current and former staff, the union says the move is unjustifiable.

Its Hampshire branch secretary Tim Cutter said: ‘It’s the responsibility of the county’s elected councillors to oversee the delivery of public services. This council has abused this position to feather the nest with taxpayers’ money while slashing services and cutting staff pay.’

The council is cutting 1,200 staff, and saving £55m, due to central government cuts.

Its leader, Cllr Ken Thornber, said: ‘It will help us protect our 5,000 properties and means we won’t have to beg the government to let us borrow money.’