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Views sought on council budget

Hampshire County Council has launched a consultation to ask people for their views on options to help the authority to prepare its budgets through to April 2024 — in response to continuing pressures on local government funding and increasing demand for core public services.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans said: “The absence of a multi-year funding settlement from the Government means that we continue to face a budget shortfall of at least £80 million over the next two years (2022/23 and 2023/24).

“Councils across England are facing the same budgetary pressures. This requires us to make more tough decisions about what the County Council can and cannot provide in future.

“Opportunities for reducing costs are getting harder to find as we have already reduced our spending by over £0.5 billion in just over a decade whilst demand for County Council services has continued to rise. Our financial strategy so far has involved targeting resources on those who need them most, such as vulnerable children and adults, planning ahead and securing savings early. This approach has helped us to invest in new, more efficient ways of working. However, we must consider further ways of making ends meet, at the same time as protecting vital services for the people of Hampshire.”

The Balancing the Budget consultation presents a range of options that could contribute towards balancing the budget. These might involve:

• introducing/increasing charges for some services;

• lobbying central Government for legislative change;

• generating additional income;

• using the County Council’s reserves;

• reducing and changing services;

• increasing Council Tax;

• changing local government arrangements in Hampshire.

The consultation runs until 18th July.

Councillor Mans added: “We would like to hear from as many Hampshire residents and stakeholders as possible to help us understand and consider the potential impact of any changes proposed. The views submitted through this consultation will be collated and used to inform discussions at Executive Member, Select Committee, Cabinet and Council budget proposal meetings during 2021. No prior decisions have been made regarding the proposals. Decisions relating to specific services will be subject to further, more detailed, consultation.”

People can take part in the consultation via the online response form on the webpage:

Paper copies can be requested by emailing or calling 0300 555 1375.

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