CIVIC leaders have renewed calls for central government to find a funding solution to address mounting social care pressures which are impacting on council budgets in Hampshire.

Members of Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) cabinet expressed concerns with the area being among the root causes of the £80million funding gap the local authority must address by April 2021.

It is claimed the expected shortfall is down to rising costs and inflation, growing demand for council services such as social care from an ageing population and higher numbers of vulnerable children needing care.

Cllr Keith Mans, leader of HCC, said financial planning had allowed the council to target funding where it is needed most.

He added: “However, the prolonged cost pressures we face, particularly in adults’ and children’s social care services are significantly outstripping our financial forecasts.

“Over the next five years, we anticipate that there will be an extra 2,000 people, each year, reaching the age of 85 and over – with greater and more complex care needs. Similarly, in children’s social care, budgets cannot keep up with rising demand for child protection services, coupled with the increasing costs. “

Cllr Mans said without the extra injection of funding by the government last month, Hampshire faced a shortfall well in excess of £100million by 2021-22.

“If we are to remain financially sustainable beyond 2021-22 and maintain high performing services which protect the most vulnerable, there needs to be a significant change in the way growth in adults’ and children’s social care is funded,” he said.

The county council’s major cost reduction programme to 2021 is its fifth such exercise since 2010, with the current being the “most challenging” to date.

The options for balancing the budget, approved by cabinet, seek to maximise income generation opportunities and minimise reductions and changes to local services. Other options to balance the budget include:

l Continuing with the county council’s financial strategy

l Raising council tax by up to four per cent

l Lobbying central Government for legislative change to enable charging for services

l Considering further opportunities for working with other authorities in Hampshire to reduce costs

Recommendations will now go before the full county council in November for a final decision.