Councillors approve budget to axe jobs, cut services and hike charges

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Hampshire County Council budget
Hampshire County Council HQ in Winchester

BUDGET plans to cut Hampshire County Council services in a bid to save £80m have been given the green light, putting more than 270 jobs at risk.

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Street lights are to be switched off for longer hours at night and support for people with learning disabilities is set to be reduced. Residents are to be asked to pay to dispose of non-household wood waste and to park at countryside sites where it is currently free.

The measures are part of a move that will save Hampshire County Council £80m by 2021, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The controversial proposals, which could also mean the closure of some libraries, were approved by county bosses at a full council meeting in Winchester.

Further details of the proposals are yet to be revealed and will be subject to public consultations and further approval.

A total of 277 jobs are now at risk with 120 of them in the adult social care and health department and up to 58 in the library sector.

At the meeting council leader Cllr Keith Mans said this was the fifth of a series of saving programmes and would be the most challenging.

Cllr Keith Mans
Cllr Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council leader and member for Brockenhurst

Opposition leader Cllr Keith House hit back saying the county council’s budget is “unsustainable”.

He added: “The incremental reduction of our services continues and it’s Hampshire people that have to pay. Every time we are cutting services that are essential.”

A number of councillors raised concerns over the effect the cuts will have on the health and adult social care department.

As previously reported, one-to-one and two-to-one support for people with learning disabilities, services which provide drug and alcohol treatment to adults and young people, as well as support for youngsters affected by domestic abuse are also set to be reduced.

At the meeting Cllr Michael Westbrook said: “The most vulnerable will be the hardest hit by these proposals. They will be more costly in the long term. Everyone agrees that prevention is better than cure and cheaper than cure.”

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, cabinet member for adult social care and health, hit back saying: “I would like to agree with the leader, we need a national solution to adult social care. But I would like to assure that any resident of Hampshire who needs adult social care will receive it.”

Earlier this year Cllr Mans called on the government to come up with a funding strategy to tackle the increasing pressure on social care.

County bosses said they are proposing a tested strategy of investing early, maximising income opportunity and carefully using the council’s resources.

Members of the public are now expected to have their say on some of the proposals with public consultations expected to be held over the coming months.

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