Havant council addresses ‘fragile’ revenue budget after its divorce with East Hampshire District Council

HAVANT Borough Council has addressed its ‘fragile’ revenue budget after its divorce from East Hampshire District Council.

By Toby Paine
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 5:49 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 1:17 pm
Cllr Alex Rennie
Cllr Alex Rennie

In this week’s cabinet meeting, the council discussed the 2022/23 budget with concerns raised by its chief finance officer over potential costs incurred by ending the partnership.

In a statement, the CFO said: ‘The council’s current financial position has been for some time fragile with year-on-year pressures within the revenue budget.

‘The council approved in 2021 the progressing of an organisational transformation programme in partnership with East Hampshire District Council to move towards a single workforce with fully shared service, this represented a robust and credible plan to address the ongoing fragility of the revenue budget.

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‘The council on January 26 agreed in principle to withdraw from the current Joint Management Agreement.

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‘With the decision pending to withdraw from the current JMA and the Shaping our Future Programme effectively not progressing it once again places Havant in a very fragile position with no current plans on how to address the ongoing forecast deficits.’

The medium-term finance plan (MTFP) considered February 2021 presented a deficit position of £2.6m, currently, the MTFP does not show an improvement.

In response, the cabinet created a ‘credible plan’ to address revenue shortfalls by restructuring senior management and setting up a budget working group.

Alex Rennie, leader of the council said: ‘There are financial challenges that are faced by this local authority, we were faced by financial challenges with or without ending the shared partnership.

‘One workforce across two authorities, and clearly that was envisioned to make savings.

‘Clearly, our political decision to end that partnership does come with a financial cost attached to it.’

‘The CFO is currently working on a business case for ending the shared partnership and I'm hoping that will include more details on cost.’

The business case report is expected to come forward in late February or early March.

Ann Buckley from Havant Borough Residents' Alliance said: ‘Residents are concerned that Havant Borough Council have now had to set aside £1.95m to cover the likely cost of the split from East Hants.

‘The sudden and surprise decision to end the joint agreement has put the staff under considerable pressure to achieve a balanced budget for the year ahead. There are real concerns from residents about future expenditure, staffing ,service provision and use of Havant Borough Council's reserves.’

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