Hampshire County Council approve major spending increases in education and childcare

YOUNG people in Hampshire are set to be big winners after the county council’s new budget was given the thumbs up.

The Conservative-run council, which is up for election in May, rubber-stamped major spending increases in education, childcare and adult services.

The council will dip into its £307million cash reserves to balance the budget over the next two years to fund programmes including faster broadband in rural areas.

Council leader Councillor Ken Thornber also announced 1,000 council apprenticeships over the next five years, with guaranteed jobs when they end, and 30 university scholarships for children from under-privileged families over the next three years.

But the Tory majority rejected an amendment from the Liberal Democrats to spend a further £10m on reversing children’s centre cuts, improving bus services, repairing pavements and providing grants for voluntary organisations in adult social care.

The council has made savings of £130m during the past two years, including cutting 1,800 jobs and reducing the payroll by £46m.

The county’s share of the council tax bill was frozen for the fourth year running at £1,037 for an average band D household.

Projects to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and to promote the 2012 Olympic legacy have each been allocated £100,000.

Five new child protection social work teams are to be set up at a cost of £2.5m per year, providing up to 71 social workers and support staff.

Other spending proposals include an extra £1.5m per year to provide more help for struggling families and prevent children being taken into care, £10,000 for each of the 78 councillors to spend on environmental projects in their own divisions and £11m to tackle rising demand for services from an increasingly elderly population, including home care.

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