Households in Hampshire will see their Council Tax remain one of the lowest in the country once again this year, protecting valued services for residents, amid on-going major financial pressure.
Hampshire County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry, said the budget approved at the meeting of the Full County Council today (Thursday 22 February) would continue to provide residents with some of the best public services in the country. “A number of local services residents have said they value, we have saved, and the budget will particularly contribute towards some of the pressures resulting from growing demand for social care for the elderly, vulnerable adults, and young people. Compared with neighbouring counties such as Dorset and Surrey where Council Tax can be over £200 per annum more, Hampshire will deliver ongoing value for money”, said Councillor Perry. He added: “It was noteworthy that our Liberal Democrat and Labour opposition could offer no alternative way of balancing the budget.”
Residents in the average band D property will be paying £1,200.96 for Hampshire County Council services in 2018/19 – or around £1.31 extra per week.
Councillor Perry continued: “Even with the agreed 5.99% increase in the council tax precept for 2018/19 (which is made up of a 2.99% core council tax increase which Government now expects all councils to implement, and 3% specifically to support adult social care pressures), Hampshire’s council tax precept will still be nearly £100 lower than it would have been when measured against inflation since 2010.
“This is no mean feat when factored alongside the very tough decisions we have needed to make in order to live within our means. A balanced budget for 2018/19 has been achievable thanks to the scale and capacity of Hampshire County Council, and our careful stewardship of taxpayers’ money – adopting a prudent, long term financial strategy, despite significant and well-documented ongoing financial pressures, together with growing demand for services and rising inflation.”
In the autumn, the Leader and Cabinet Members recognised the importance of school crossing patrols, community transport, and Household Waste Recycling Centres to the people of Hampshire in the 2018/19 budget, and gave a commitment to find alternative options. “I am pleased that we have secured a reprieve for these services, through a combination of identifying new savings, and using the increased council tax flexibility, whilst still achieving the necessary reduction in overall spending by a further £140 million by April 2019” said Councillor Perry. “We will continue to lobby Government on our proposals for longer term solutions, to help protect these services in the future.
“At the same time as delivering a balanced revenue budget, few local authorities can boast the extent of capital investment proposed by Hampshire over the next three years. Our £530 million capital programme will generate growth in Hampshire’s economy, jobs and quality of the environment – delivering schemes which include educational choice for pupils, from £146 million investment in new and extended school buildings; continued progress in strengthening Hampshire’s infrastructure with £120 million for the structural maintenance of roads and bridges; as well as £133 million for integrated transport schemes to improve access to key employment areas.
“Despite the need for on-going major financial constraint across the public sector as a whole, Hampshire County Council is determined to sustain stable finances on behalf of the taxpayers of Hampshire, while delivering some of the best local services to residents, as we have done for many years – ensuring we protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”