Public to be consulted on next stage plans to help meet future financial pressures

Proposals around the future of some local services will be among options set to be presented by Hampshire County Council for public consultation in the coming months, under next stage plans to help meet a £132 million budget shortfall faced by the local authority from April 2025

Nov 9 2023

At the meeting of the full County Council on Thursday 9 November, Hampshire’s financial strategy to 2025/26 was approved - paving the way for next steps to help tackle significant financial challenges in future years, like those faced by many other councils nationwide. In the new year, Hampshire residents will be asked to consider specific proposals which could see different ways of working adopted in some areas, in a move towards changing and reducing some local services by moving towards statutory minimum levels that may be delivered to Hampshire’s 1.4 million residents in future. This could not only help to streamline costs and further increase efficiency but also crucially ensure that vital support and protection could be prioritised beyond April 2025 for the most vulnerable children, older people, and adults with complex care needs across Hampshire. 

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby explained: “Making the most of the public’s money is our priority and we take very seriously our legal responsibility to ensure we deliver a balanced budget. This will become increasingly challenging after April 2025 as our costs keep rising, and demand continues to grow for vital local services like social care – part of a problem also facing many other local councils. We cannot wait for a long-term national remedy however, so it’s up to us to look at what we can do locally to start to close the budget gap in future years and ensure we can continue to deliver services that protect those children and adults who most need our help.

“Following the decision by the Full County Council today, we will soon invite people to consider more detailed options to help lower costs in future and what it might mean for them if we were to do things differently after April 2025. In our public consultation held this summer, changing services is something that residents told us they would be supportive of, and an example of this might include school crossing patrols for instance, where we are legally bound to ensure children get to school as safely as possible, but we are not required by law to do this through the dedicated provision of school crossing patrol officers. There may well be effective alternative ways of doing things, which could be identified in this area, and others.” 

The list of the areas to be consulted on are:

  • Proposals relating to changes to the way in which contributions towards non-residential social care costs are calculated
  • Proposals relating to the Adult Social Care grants programme for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations
  • Proposals relating to grant funding provided to Hampshire Cultural Trust
  • A review and consolidation of existing one-off competitive grant schemes which provide grants to a range of community groups and organisations
  • Proposals to reduce planned highways maintenance, with planned maintenance activity continuing at reduced levels until government funding allows it to be reinstated
  • Proposals to reduce the cost of the Highways winter service by reviewing current provision against statutory requirements and seeking innovations which can further reduce costs
  • Withdrawal of all remaining funding on non-statutory public transport provision
  • Proposals to develop criteria to identify countryside carparks where charging could be introduced
  • Proposals to extend the existing dimming and part-night streetlight switch off time in residential streets, where appropriate and based on local evidence
  • Proposal to review the School Crossing Patrol service to determine whether alternative safe measures could be put in place
  • Withdrawal of all funding for non-statutory Homelessness Support Services
  • Proposals to review the existing 24 Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRCs) service provision to inform a revised strategy for service delivery, taking account of best practice across the country and national guidance and enabling the provision of more modern, accessible sites. The revised service could include varying the opening hours of HWRCs, reducing the number of existing HWRCs, building new HWRCs or extending capacity of existing HWRCs, and/or introducing new charges for discretionary services at HWRCs
  • Proposals to reduce library stock levels, with a view to potentially reducing physical stock held in libraries

The public will be invited to provide feedback on proposals over several weeks, starting from early January 2024.

Final decisions will then be made by individual Cabinet Councillors later next year.