JOBS will be lost, grants are to be slashed and council tax is rising – but civic chiefs are ready for the year ahead.

The latest proposals for Winchester City Council's budget have been published, showing savings of £3,069,800.

By deleting employment positions and restructuring departments, savings of 1,113,800 will be made.

Non-staff savings total at £1,308,000. Additional savings make £648,000, including a three per cent rise in council tax.

Members of the scrutiny committee debated the report on February 2.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, leader of the Conservatives on the council, said: "Residents are being hit with an increase on council tax – they are being asked to put their hands deeply in their pockets to put money back into the council system.

"The reason this is disappointing is that we have a council delaying decision making over important project that could generate income for the council and produce new opportunities.

"No progress is being made and it's deeply disappointing."

Lib Dem councillor, Dominic Hiscock responded: "I really wish I could live in this fantasy world that the Conservative councillors on the committee seem to.

"They spend half of their time whinging about services being cut and the rest of the time moaning about the council trying to raise funds for services.

"I think this is a very good paper – well worked out – unlike some of the stupid and insufficient arguments from the opposition."

The budget proposals will go before cabinet later this month and could be approved.

To make savings, staff in the planning, transformation, finance, land charges and engagement/sports departments are at risk of losing their jobs or having their hours reduced.

The council's special maintenance , environmental health, planning, estates, democratic services, housing, engagement/sports and communications teams are all to be restructured.

Winchester Criterium will no longer receive funding from the council and Play to the Crowd, which runs the Theatre Royal and Hat Fair, will see its annual grant slashed by 20 per cent.

Cllr Neil Cutler, cabinet member for finance and risk, said: "There is so much uncertainty due to the unique circumstances. Although our budget is a very good estimate which has been very closely worked out by the finance team, the money situation could go either way this year depending on the pandemic.

"By making savings, we leave some breathing room and the chance to use reserves if income falls.

"It's very, very important that we monitor this closely. We could be thinking too pessimistically and the income may well be better than we have predicted.

"There is a chance that we will revise the budget later in the year."