MORE than £2bn of public spending on local services has been approved by Hampshire County Council.

A total of £2.6bn was agreed at the full council meeting on Thursday, February 22 together with the level of council tax for the next financial year.

From April 1, Hampshire County Council’s portion of council tax will increase by a total of 4.99 per cent, of which two per cent will go towards adults’ social care. This is the highest that can be imposed without holding a referendum.

This equates to an annual charge of £1,533.24 for a Band D property – an increase of £72.99 per year or approximately £1.40 a week. 

The increase will generate an extra £39m towards the delivery of crucial services.

Cllr Rob Humby, county council leader, said: “I am incredibly proud of Hampshire’s local services. We have some of the best in the country and we are committed to maintaining the county as a great place for people to live, learn, work, play, visit and do business, so that everyone can continue to enjoy all it has to offer now and into the future. 

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“Each year, one of the most testing tasks we have is to deliver a balanced budget – carefully managing public funds to ensure that they have the greatest impact in serving the people of Hampshire. We have a strong track record of achieving this, but it’s getting much harder each year to do so. The funds that we do have simply don’t stretch as far as they used to, as demand in key areas like children’s and adults’ social care continues to rise and costs increase too – particularly in areas like school transport where there are growing numbers of children with disabilities and additional needs who require support. The extra pressure we are facing across all council services will push up our costs by an extra £152 million from this April. 

“Having this financial safety net in the form of our reserves sees us safely through the upcoming financial year but this money will very soon run out, and without the fundamental national changes we have been calling for to the way local government is funded overall, we must look closely at what the county council can continue to deliver in the years to come. This is why we are already consulting local people on options to help towards meeting the £132 million budget shortfall expected from April 2025. We are encouraging as many people as possible to have their say in our Future Services Consultation before March 31, and tell us their views on 13 key proposals to help lower costs in future, and what it might mean for residents if we were to do things differently after April 2025.”

Alongside revenue budget plans, the county council has also approved new capital spending of £880.6m over the next three years which will boost jobs and the local economy, the quality of the environment and contribute towards the authority's commitment to tackling climate change. 

The council is also consulting on a series of cuts including closing some recycling centres.