A budget to serve the people of Hampshire - County Council approves £2.6bn spending on local services for residents in 2024/25

£2.6 billion of public spending on the ongoing delivery of important local services to Hampshire’s 1.4 million residents in 2024/25 has been approved by Hampshire County Council today (22 February)

Feb 22 2024

At the meeting of the full County Council, budget plans for the upcoming financial year were agreed together with the level of council tax for the next financial year. 

From 1 April 2024, Hampshire County Council’s portion of council tax will increase by a total of 4.99%, of which 2% will go specifically towards adults’ social care and supporting the county’s higher numbers of older people and adults with complex needs and disabilities - in line with Government policy. 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 £39 million of vital income towards the delivery of crucial services to the people of Hampshire in 2024/25, and still means that Hampshire has one of the lowest council tax precepts of any county in England.

County Council Leader, Councillor Rob Humby, 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. 

“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. 

“Making the most of public money is our priority, and how we do this in order to keep delivering important local services to Hampshire residents, while carefully managing our funds and ‘living within our means’ is an acute challenge that we and many other councils nationwide are facing. At a time when household budgets are also under considerable pressure, the decision to increase our portion of the council tax by 4.99% from April this year has been a very difficult one. Even with this increase, it’s not enough to close the significant gap in our budget in 2024/25 which we must fill from our reserves – dedicated funds set aside specifically to address such shortfalls. 

“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 31 March, 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 which relate to the day-to-day delivery of local services to Hampshire residents, the County Council has also approved new capital spending of £880.6 million over the next three years which will boost jobs and the local economy, the quality of the environment and contribute towards the County Council’s commitment to tackling climate change. This provision for Hampshire’s infrastructure is one of the largest in the country and brings the County Council’s four-year total investment in the fabric of Hampshire, to £1.4 billion, providing a huge boost to the local economy through jobs, skills and construction.  

The three-year programme includes: 
- £173 million to safeguard the long-term viability of the Older Adult care estate. 
- £192 million investment in new and extended school buildings to provide school places for children in Hampshire - delivering a further 5,312 school places and giving a total of 19,989 new school places by September 2027. 
- £163 million for structural maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges. 
- £73 million of Integrated Transport Plan schemes including £43 million of schemes focused around walking and/or cycling improvements. 
- £76 million to address condition-based enhancements to schools.