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Residents face big Hampshire County Council tax rise to fill £80m gap

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PLANS to plug an £80m black hole in Hampshire County Council’s budget have taken a significant step forward – but it looks like residents could be hit in the pockets.

The ruling Conservative cabinet agreed at its latest meeting on a range of plans to slash the budget by April 2023, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But included in these proposals is a proposed 3.99% increase on council tax from HCC, which demands the biggest share of the overall charge.

HCC demands the biggest share of the overall tax charge
HCC demands the biggest share of the overall tax charge

These plans will now go before the full council on 4th November.

The council has pinned the need for budget cuts on reduced government funding and the increasing demand for core services, such as social care.

HCC leader Cllr Keith Mans, from Brockenhurst, said: "The county council has a strong track record of financial stewardship alongside high performance, and we continue to apply these strengths to the ongoing budget pressures.

"Our ambition in this round is to achieve these two-year savings by managing inflation and demand pressures across services, rather than reducing overall spending in key areas.

"This will also enable us to consider additional spending in the budget of a further £7m in the maintenance of Hampshire’s roads, over £3m per annum to boost children’s social care and investing up to £22m in our capital programme to support the social care needs of younger adults and those leaving hospital."

Cllr Keith Mans
Cllr Keith Mans

About £40.6m is set to be cut from the adult services and public health budget, with a further £20m slashed from children’s services and £3.3m from culture and communities.

A six-week public consultation was run between 7th June and 18th July, asking members of the public for their thoughts on the budget cuts.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has also been felt, with councils having to spend more to keep vital services afloat.

Cllr Mans added that there are "some extremely hard decisions" ahead for the council.

"We face our biggest challenge to date – and regardless of government’s recent announcement of adult social care reforms, which do not address at all the burgeoning longer-term costs from continued growing demand within this sector," he said.

"Government must take action to address the national issue of growth in adults’ and children’s social care, as it’s simply not possible to keep reducing services to meet growth costs in others – a concern also shared by residents."

Following full council and potential further consultation, the budget cuts will be prepared for final consideration in February next year.

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