Hampshire County Council Announces Cuts

25 February 2011, 13:13 | Updated: 8 March 2011, 09:50

Hampshire County Council's agreed its budget for 2011/12.

It's thought as many as 1200 jobs could go as the council tries to make savings.

Cllr Thornber said:

"This budget includes savings and reductions sufficient to meet a £55million funding gap and sees council tax frozen, but most importantly it is a budget that focuses funding on core services for those people that need support the most.

"The Council has enormous responsibilities to provide help and support to vulnerable children and adults in our care. We will be continuing to provide care to those adults with both critical and substantial needs while some councils have chosen to move to providing care only for those with critical needs.  To ensure we can continue to offer safe social care services that meet the needs of vulnerable children and families we have not cut the budget for Child Protection and safeguarding services."

Following the County Council meeting the budget now includes a number of new proposals to support the young, elderly, the vulnerable and their carers totalling £2.7 million.

The Council will be:

* Reducing the impact on the 'aiming high' budget which offers support for disabled children and their parents through activities and respite by putting back £1million.

* £1m extra is to be provided to adult services including £60,000 to reinstate funding that was withdrawn from Government for the Stroke Association and £265,000 to enhance at home respite care.

* £300,000 is to be used to limit reductions to grants for voluntary organisations that support vulnerable children and families in the county.

* The Link Library service which takes library services to children and parents in the community for Leigh Park and Wecock will also be retained at a cost of £60,000

The Council has had to fill a funding deficit of £1.2 million to provide the statutory concessionary bus fare scheme. The new proposals will also see the County Council increasing its contribution by £350,000 to allow all pass holders to travel from 9am on every bus service, which will help those who have early morning appointments, and is in response to concerns expressed by residents.

These additions to the budget are on top of the £1.2million the Cabinet agreed should be added to the Children Services budget. This money will contribute to meeting the costs of the continuing high numbers of children in our care, recruit additional frontline social workers, help improve reading abilities of children in care and develop a scheme that will help care leavers who are not working, training or continuing their education to get a foot on the employment ladder.

Councillor Ken Thornber, added:

"The council is having to make reductions to meet a £55 million budget gap that is the result of cuts in government funding and other pressures, the most significant of which is the growing numbers of older people and adults with learning disabilities needing support and the increasing complexity of their needs.

"To meet this challenge our focus has been on reducing running costs first and we have looked to transform the way the Council delivers services through a number of corporate workstreams which have successfully identified savings of £28million, reflecting our desire to ensure that services to vulnerable are offered some protection.

"While we have done all we can to limit the impact on services and to minimise job losses the level of reductions we have had to make could not be found from reducing running costs and by making efficiency savings alone. We are making reductions, and residents will see changes - some of which will not only save money but improve services, but others, will sadly, be felt more deeply. No one comes into local government to make cuts, but with council funding being reduced to help pay off the national deficit, tough choices are having to made across the country and Hampshire is no exception."

UNISON protested outside the budget meeting on Thursday (Feb 24th), releasing this statement about the cuts:

The County Council has identified a requirement to reduce the workforce costs of the organisation by 8% in 2011/12 (and a further (8% in 2012/13).  It is anticipated that, overall, the workforce will reduce by 1,200 posts.  This will include the deletion of a number of vacancies and the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts. The highest proportion of job losses will be in the Adult Services and Children’s Services departments.

UNISON Hampshire Branch Secretary Gina Turner added: "Cuts of this scale will impact heavily on frontline services. This a regressive step and a dark day for the residents of Hampshire.

"We are concerned for the most vulnerable in the community, particularly many who utilise the vital facilities offered by both the Adult and Children’s Services departments. The Council is sitting on reserves of over £130 million, the third biggest council reserves in the country, and it is baffling that they could decide to cut jobs and services rather than spend some of this money."

UNISON Hampshire Acting Deputy Branch Secretary Tim Cutter added:

"By putting money into local services we could kick start economic growth but the Council chooses instead to place more people out of work. The economy needs jobs and Hampshire residents need well maintained local services, yet the Conservative-led Council is choosing cuts.

"Hampshire UNISON does not believe these cuts are necessary and and is committed to fighting them."