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Hike in Hampshire's council tax gets go ahead as budget approved

4 minute read
Hike in Hampshire's council tax gets go ahead as budget approved

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Maria Zaccaro at 6:00am 15th February 2020.

Hampshire residents will face a tax hike but will also see more investment across the county over the next year.

Civic chiefs have pledged to invest millions of pounds in maintaining and improving roads, expanding schools and tackle climate change.

But they have also agreed a 3.99% increase in Hampshire County Council’s council tax precept for next year. 

It comes as county councillors have set the budget for the 2020/21 financial year and have also approved a financial strategy until 2023.

According to the plans, the county council will invest a total of £386.5m in roads, transport and children and adult social care services over the next three years.

Of this, £115.8m will be invested in maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges and £107.7m will go to major improvements of school and county council buildings until 2023. 

Meanwhile, in the following 12 months the authority will invest up to £2m to tackle climate change, £3m to maintain roads and repair potholes,  £481m in adult social care and health services and an extra £22m would be invested in children’s services.

But the annual council tax charge for a Band D property will increase by £49.41 per annum to £1,286.28.

County bosses said 2% of the 3.99% increase will be spent specifically on adults’ social care.

The budget was approved after a two-hour long debate in Winchester this morning.

Many opposition councillors raised concerns over the proposals and the potential closure of ten Hampshire libraries as part of a move to save £80m by 2021.

Cllr Keith House, leader of the Liberal Democrats, suggested that councillors should look into supporting more volunteers to allow all libraries to remain open.

He also accused the county council of not having a strategy for the future.

He added: “We have been here before.  We are told that this a county council that has embraced a climate emergency but what a joke are some of the new cuts.

"Reducing school transport to the statutory minimum is not tackling climate change, closing libraries so that residents have to travel further to borrow a book that is not tackling climate change.

"We have been told there’s no alternative but of course there’s an alternative and that alternative is to have a strategy.”

Basingstoke councillor Michael Westbrook urged the council to ask the government for more money and support before “we reach the projected cliff edge”.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage, stressed that the consultation on the future of Hampshire libraries is still ongoing and he said there are “very interesting options” put forward for consideration.

Council leader Keith Mans said the county council has a long term strategy and has set up a commission to start planning for the next 30 years.

He said the authority’s financial strategy has been effective and stressed that all councillors from different political parties should work together to ask more support from central government.

He added: “Our budget proposals are the result of some very careful planning.

"Our priority remains to protect those who are most in need in particular young children and others with complex needs.

"We would press the government to put forward the commitment made in the Conservative manifesto to provide a solution to social care. ”