Hampshire County Council (HCC) have an open consultation for Hampshire resident on their budget plans for 2021/22 and 22/23. These involve making cuts of £40million each year. This comes on top of many years of cuts. The cumulative effects of these cuts is that by 2023 HCC will be spending £640 million less on services EVERY YEAR!
You can complete a Hampshire County Council questionnaire online giving your views. You must do this by 18th July.
Councils by law must balance their budgets. That’s now impossible to do without making cuts to services because Central Government (the Tories) have been cutting the money they give to our local authorities.
In short HCC are putting forward a plan to balance the books. They want to:
- Lobby the government so they can make charges for things they are not legally allowed to at the moment
- Increase charges for things and introduce new charges for things like dial-a-ride
- Increase council tax
- Cut services which will effect the old, disabled and young people the most
- Cutting school crossing patrols and closing HWRC (Tips)
They say they can’t use their capital reserves to help balance the books because what’s available isn’t enough and could only support the council for 14 days.
Your new Labour Hampshire County Councillor team, will do what we can to raise concerns about these plans, but there are only three of them so you need to add your voices to theirs to become a roar against unfairness and austerity.
In the online consultation form you will be asked about making choices, pitting one cut against another. We would ask you to complain about that when you get to the last question asking for your views and to suggest that they should be pushing government to restore their funding not cutting essential services.
On the consultation page there is a full document you can download and read. As you would expect there are plenty of fine words and not much detail, so we have given a summary below of what we think the main proposals are saying.
1. HCC want to lobby the government to legislation changes so they can charge for:
- use of local Household Waste and Recycling Centres (£1 per visit);
- issuing an Older Person’s Bus Pass (which lasts for five years) (£10);
- recovering 25% of the per journey fare for concessionary travel. (This means older and disabled people with the Bus Pass will have to pay for journeys);
- Home to School Transport (means-testing could apply).
2. Using reserves to plug the funding gap no longer feasible option because:
- 83% of the councils’ reserves are already accounted for projects like new schools and school maintenance some of it is also money held for other organisations like the LEP/schools.
- The remaining 17% is only enough to run the council for about 14 days.
3. Increasing charges
Raise existing charges or introduce new charges to help cover the costs of running local services. This approach was used over the last few years for some services – for example, introducing parking charges at countryside sites, and room hire fees at local libraries. Other charge increases or new charges could include higher charges for parking in our public parks/leisure areas, parking charges for village/small town high streets, charging people premium rates to use community transport like dial a ride and not allowing OAP/Disabled bus passes to be used on it so they would have to pay to use.
4. Council tax increases
HCC has third lowest council tax in the UK despite being one of the richest areas. This means we are now £36m per year worse off EVERY YEAR than if we had previously increased charges as an “average” on the league table. Every 1% lost income= £7 million extra funding.
This decision is political dogma, not sound financial management.
5. CUTS to services
Key themes include reducing or stopping some services, using IT/technology to replace services, greater use of volunteers, charities and friends and families. More use of Direct Payment type systems.
Click here to get the list of cuts: from cutting all school patrol crossings to cutting grants for mental health, social care and shutting tips.