Hampshire agrees nearly £50 increase in share of council tax

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Hampshire council tax
Hampshire County Council HQ in Winchester

THE biggest portion of New Forest residents’ council tax will rise by nearly £50 for Band D properties after the county council agreed its budget for 2020/21.

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It was voted through by the Conservative-controlled authority yesterday (Thursday) and will add just over £49.41 to its part of the 2020/21 Band D bill – increasing it by 3.99% to £1,286.28.

The overall charge will go up in April from the combined demands of the county, district, and town and parish councils, as well as the police and fire services.

HCC’s budget meeting in Winchester voted through a £2.1bn budget which aims to close an £80m shortfall by April 2021 due to cuts in government funding. Half of the tax increase will be dedicated to adult social care.

The financial plan was hailed by Tory leader Cllr Keith Mans, from Brockenhurst, as prioritising vulnerable children and adults while making investments in roads and infrastructure, and making a commitment to tackling climate change.

But he warned the council “simply cannot sustain growth in demand and cost indefinitely” and promised to press the government for long-term funding commitments beyond 2021/22.

As reported in the A&T, proposals include cutting £1.75m from the library service, with branches at Lyndhurst, Blackfield and Milford under threat.

Cllr Mans went on: “Our budget proposals are the result of some very careful planning which began last autumn to address significant financial pressures resulting from the anticipated shortfall in our revenue budget of a further £80m by April 2021.

“Today, we have set our course for the year ahead – to maintain high performing services for the people of Hampshire while keeping council tax the second lowest of counties nationally.”

Schemes highlighted by the administration included:

  • £94.8m for new and extended school buildings to create a total of 19,100 new places by September 2023
  • £115.8m for maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges
  • £45.8m for integrated transport schemes including £10m-plus for walking and cycling improvements
  • £107.7m for major improvements of school and other county council buildings

Cllr Mans said that maintaining a “strong and prosperous economy” would be boosted by bringing HCC’s four-year capital investment to £733m, which he said was one of the largest programmes in the country.

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane recently signed off an extra £10, raising the force’s portion of the council tax by 4.96% to £211.46.

When the fire and rescue authority meets on Wednesday, it is set to approve adding £1.35 (1.99%) to the charge to bring its share to £69.06.

The combined total will be confirmed when New Forest District Council becomes the last authority to agree its tax rise at a meeting later this month. It is looking at an increase of £5 (2.88%) to bring it up to £178.36.

Last year the average New Forest Band D bill for 2019/20 came to a combined £1,765, including town and parish council precepts.

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