Wednesday, April 14, 2021
formerly Meon Valley Local News Team


New Cuts Could Be On The Way As Hampshire County Council Faces £210m Coronavirus Bill

By Maria Zaccaro , Local Democracy Reporting Service in News on November 28, 2020

Hampshire County Council is facing a £210m coronavirus bill and is speeding up saving plans amid concerns over its finances.

Further cuts could be on the way as civic chiefs in Hampshire are to start looking at plans to save £80m by 2023.

Previously the authority was not expected to look at the possibility of further savings until February 2021.

But documents have revealed that as the spending review set out by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on November 25th covered one year instead of three, the authority has to speed up its plans.

It comes as civic chiefs said the council needs £50m from central government to be financially viable over the next three to four years.

As reported, the council faces a £210m coronavirus bill by 2023.

The authority said it is “far too early to speculate” on the steps that will be required to address these budget pressures or the impact on jobs.

But in a meeting held earlier this week, county council director of corporate resources Carolyn Williamson said the savings will need to be made by April 1st 2023  “at the latest”.

She said the authority has  “absolutely nothing left in reserves to support any later running of saving delivery”.

The council stressed the reserves mentioned by Ms Williamson are those used specifically to support the delivery of saving programmes or provide a financial “buffer” on the scheduled delivery of savings.

Civic chiefs said the council still has other reserves earmarked for other specific projects.

But an official council report reads: “With the news of the single year Spending Review it is clear that we need to start this planning now.

“Whilst in December, we would expect to receive detailed figures for next year, given the lack of any certainty after this period, the  county council has no choice but to assume that savings required to meet a two-year gap of at least £80m will be required by April 2023 as we cannot take the risk of delaying the programme until 2024.”

From this month until May 2021 civic chiefs will work on saving plans and a public consultation on the proposals is expected to be run between June and July 2021.

A final decision is then set to be taken by next November.

Council leader Cllr Keith Mans said: “The decision by Government to hold a single year Spending Review is disappointing but understandable, and we now keenly await details of next year’s provisional finance settlement for local government in early December, which should give us an indication of the landscape ahead.

“However, this does still make medium-term financial planning difficult and we will be asking the Government to prioritise a multi-year Spending Review next year, and for this to include a sustainable solution to the social care pressures we face.”

Opposition leader Cllr Keith House said: “The Government has badly let Hampshire down.  Hampshire’s Conservative MPs must speak up and get results from their own Government.”

The government previously said Hampshire County Council has received £61m in non-ringfenced emergency funding.

The Government has been approached for comment.

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