At the meeting of the Authority’s Cabinet today (17 June), Hampshire County Council Leader, Councillor Keith Mans has highlighted how the Council’s careful financial stewardship, and targeted, best-use of available funding, means it is on track to deliver another £140 million of savings - maintain high standards in core services such as social care for children and adults, and education - and reinvest in Hampshire’s infrastructure and economy.
Councillor Mans explained: “At a time of immense financial pressure, to be able to safeguard high performance in our core service delivery to the people of Hampshire, and to have this externally validated, is a huge achievement. It sets Hampshire apart from many other local authorities.
“Since the start of national austerity, we have applied a tried and tested financial strategy, supported by residents - which has not only enabled us to save nearly £0.5 billion from our budgets over the last 11 years, but also ensure that core services to the people of Hampshire remain of high quality. The most recent example being, of which we are particularly proud, the exceptional judgement by Ofsted of our Children’s Services - rated as Outstanding in every area, as well as overall. This reinforces what we have known for many years - that children under Hampshire’s watch really are safe and well looked-after.
“Today’s reports to Cabinet show that to date, we are successfully managing a complex and carefully balanced budget scenario. We have steps in place to address the short-term demand pressures in areas such as children’s and adult social care whilst targeting available funding to support people most in need. At the same time, quality is maintained, early savings are secured, and reinvestment made in innovative service delivery - as well as reinvestment in infrastructure such as the maintenance of Hampshire’s roads.
“This short-term picture is encouraging, but we are very conscious that it becomes ever more challenging in the coming years. The costs associated with growing demand for services are going up, particularly around social care from Hampshire’s ageing population, greater numbers of adults with complex needs and higher than expected numbers of children needing our care. Together with the impact of even less funding from Government, we need to give serious thought to what we can do differently in future if we are to find a further £80 million of savings we expect will be needed by April 2021 – that’s why we are currently consulting with residents via our Balancing the Budget consultation.
“As we look to 2021, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we sustain high performance in the future. We are constantly trying to ensure best value for the Hampshire taxpayer with Council Tax still among the lowest in the country. We will continue to look for opportunities to sell and share our services with other public sector partners, maximise new technology, and find ways of generating more income to help mitigate the effect on services. These strategies have already made a big difference to offset the impact on Hampshire services and safeguard their quality and will continue to do so.”