HAMPSHIRE residents are being asked for their views on ways the county council can prepare its upcoming budget to balance rising costs. 

Hampshire County Council (HCC) is asking people for their views on ways to help the authority draw up its budgets over the next two years, through to April 2025.

To date, by planning ahead and using its reserves carefully, the council has found ways to deliver services more efficiently and has saved £640m since 2008.

But, how it continues to deliver local services is getting harder with much less money available.

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Cllr Rob Humby, leader of HCC, said: “Hampshire County Council has a very strong reputation for making the most of taxpayers’ money and delivering high-performing services to our 1.4 million residents."

The council currently supports more than 400 schools across the county and safeguards almost 10,000 vulnerable children and young people.

They also look after more than 5,000 miles of Hampshire roads and provide things like household waste recycling centres, streetlights and libraries.

Cllr Humby said: "To be able to continue to deliver these services over the last decade, we’ve taken many steps to ensure the council makes best use of every penny – from changing how we work, generating income and sharing resources with other public sector organisations, using technology to work more efficiently, and disposing of land and buildings we no longer need."

He explained that the council have also set money aside to help "bridge funding shortfalls" but despite these measures and increasing council tax to the maximum they're allowed to this year, "it still won't be enough in the years to come". 

There is expected to be a £132m gap in their budget by 2025/2026.

He said: "This means some really difficult decisions will need to be made, which will impact some of the services the council can continue to deliver.

"We’re now consulting on ideas of how we can balance the books and would like to hear people’s views on how we can continue to make the most of the public’s money.”  

The budget consultation presents options that could contribute towards balancing the budget. These might involve: 

  • introducing and 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 from midday on Monday, June 12 to 11.59pm on July 23 2023.  

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The council would like to hear from residents, businesses, schools, universities, community and voluntary groups, our their partners, to help them "understand and consider the potential impact of any changes".

The views submitted through this consultation will be collated and used to shape savings proposals that will be considered in the autumn.

No prior decisions have been made regarding the proposals and decisions relating to services will be subject to further consultation.  

To take part in the consultation, go to hants.gov.uk/budgetconsultation.