Portsmouth City Council unveils its £4m budget-trimming plan

Portsmouth Civic Offices
Portsmouth Civic Offices
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FUNDING to activity groups, cultural trusts and health support to older people in Portsmouth is to be scaled back while cash for children’s services remains secure.

That is what is on the cards as Portsmouth City Council today reveals its actions plan to slash £4m from its budget.

The Tory administration has unveiled where it wants to claw back millions as the government continues to rein in the funding it provides to local authorities.

It comes as the council said it needed to slash £12m from its budget by 2020/21.

But civic leaders insist the latest bout of savings will have a ‘minimal’ impact, saying only four per cent of the planned 2018/19 budget is made up of ‘real-term’ cost cutting measures.

Council boss Councillor Donna Jones said the authority’s ‘entrepreneurial’ efforts had helped it to stave off savage cuts like Hampshire County Council, which faces axing £140m, adding its nationwide property portfolio was generating £4m profit.

She said: ‘We’re determined to generate new income while continuing our drive to regenerate the city, to be an entrepreneurial council and protect valued services.

‘Of the £4m that we need to save, just four per cent will be through service reductions, with 36 per cent coming from increased income and 61 per cent from efficiencies that we have been able to identify.’

The plans will see a £277,300 reduction to the city’s culture, leisure and sport coffers, with a £3,500 cut to Widley’s Peter Ashley Activity Centre and a £50,000 reduction to the Guildhall.

The authority’s health and social care budget is being reduced by £1,096,000 with much of this being achieved by streamlining services with the clinical commissioning group, improving efficiency, cutting out-dated technology and reviewing services.

Elsewhere, planning regeneration and economic development will see a reduction of £815,100, housing £109,000, resources £798,000, traffic and transportation £305,000 and environment budgets will be down by £150,000.

Education also faces a scale back of £180,000 – although the council said this would be off-set by retendering of services, the number of schools becoming academies – which will be responsible for improvement costs at schools – and a grant that will cover admissions services.

The budget comes after a public consultation by the council asking residents how important they felt it was to invest money in major schemes such as flood defences, secondary school places, and a new city centre road layout designed to open up land for development. It also asked them which day-to-day services they valued the most.

Cllr Jones said the authority used the results to determine where to make savings

She added: ‘We’re continuing to buy commercial property which brings in rent. This is making us more than £4m a year profit.

‘We are also in the process of setting up an energy supply company, which would not only generate cheaper energy for local people, but would put profits back into the local community.’

Since 2011, Portsmouth has lost £73m of government funding.