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Warning of more cutbacks for Hampshire residents

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Warning of more cutbacks for Hampshire residents

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Maria Zaccaro at 11:02am 16th September 2019. (Updated at 11:14am 16th September 2019)

Hampshire residents could be charged for services that are currently free, along with a possible rise in council tax, as county council bosses try to balance the books.

Proposals released last week also reveal that more than 200 jobs could be lost, some libraries could close and several health services could be hit by further cuts - with the councils trying to save £80m by 2021.

The plans show that  £43.1m could be saved in the department of adult social care and public health, with the potential loss of 120 full time jobs in the adult social care sector.

The authority said this would represent less than 4% staffing reductions but according to an official document the  saving target "will challenge the department like never before and it is inevitable that there will be impacts on front-line services".

A total of 223 jobs could be at risk, including up to 58 jobs in the Library Service sector and up to 25 within the Economy, Transport and Environment department.

The council  said it will try to redeploy staff where possible but the scale of the challenge "inevitably means that there will be an impact on services".

Concerns have been raised over the impact the proposed cuts will have in the long term.

According to official documents published by the council,  the almost 300 people with a learning disability across the county could see a reduction of one-to-one and two-to-one support in a  move that would save £2m.

New supported living schemes could be developed to reduce the reliance on residential care for people with a learning disability, physical disability or mental health condition.

Kevin Gardner, CEO at Solent Mind, the charity that provides services to support people with mental health problems across the southern region, said the council is facing a  huge task.

But he added:

"Reduced investment in prevention may help balance the books in the short term, but risks a need for more intensive and costly support in future years."

There could also be a reduction in the support for families and children where one or both parents are alcohol or drug dependant as well as a reduction in services for people affected by domestic abuse.

Services for children and young people moving from children’s to adults social care could also be affected.

Liberal Democrat councillor David Harrison said there was concern concerned that some of the cuts will not achieve any real savings:

"Often, if you fail to support vulnerable people it simply shunts costs elsewhere, such as the NHS. My Lib Dem colleagues and I will be looking carefully at the proposals."

Residents could also be charged to dispose of non-household wood waste such as fence panels and sheds and they could also be asked to pay for parking at countryside sites where it is currently free. 

Street lights could be switched off for longer hours. 

The authority said that any job loss would be due to "a number of factors including the introduction of new ways of working and processes".

It also highlighted that it is anticipated that most would be achieved through natural turnover. 

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Keith House said: 

"Every job that’s lost reduces services to Hampshire residents. Conservative mismanagement of finance is costing Hampshire residents dear."

In a document the council said the authority’s approach to managing down staff levels in "a planned and sensitive way through the use of managed recruitment, redeployment of staff where possible and exploring voluntary redundancy where appropriate will be continued".

It also said the council would ensure "appropriate consultation with staff and trade unions".

The proposals will be discussed by executive members at the council next week and a final decision is expected to be made in November.

Some proposals may then be subject to more detailed consultation. 

Council leader Cllr Keith Mans said: 

"These proposals will set out a range of options for how the County Council could meet the significant funding gap it faces by April 2021 -  which are the direct result of further reductions in our funding from Government, rising costs and inflation, and growing demand for council services such as social care. 

"While no final decisions are to made until November 2019, there can be no doubt, that without a long term national strategy in place for the funding of adult social care, some difficult decisions lie ahead in the way we support our population. 

"If Hampshire is to remain one of the strongest local authorities in the country, providing good value for money to the county’s taxpayers, and consistently delivering some of the best public services to Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents, we must receive the right level of financial support, on an ongoing and consistent basis, from Government."

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has approached Unite the Union for a comment.


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