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Hampshire freezes tax levy again
A FREEZE on council tax for the fourth year running is being planned by Hampshire County Council chiefs.
The Conservative-run council said the Government is to reduce the grant it receives by 8.7 per cent and 9.6 per cent over the next two years.
Bosses have already made savings of £100million over the past two years by axing 1,200 jobs and services.
Now, departments – including children’s services, adult social care, transport, libraries and country parks – are being asked to find further savings of two per cent in 2013 and 2014 to shave 20 per cent of its budget over four years.
Council leader Councillor Ken Thornber said the local authority receives one of the lowest grants per head of population of any county.
He added: “These savings, plus the money we set aside to cushion Hampshire residents from the impact of huge grant losses we knew were coming, stand us in good stead to tackle the tough times ahead.”
The local authority will receive a Government grant of £5.3m for freezing council tax. This is equal to a one per cent rise in council tax.
Cllr Thornber pledged more cash for child protection and home care for the elderly to cope with increased demand for services and to improve broadband in rural areas. Some £1.9m has also been earmarked to help troubled families turn their lives around.
The council has previously come under fire for keeping more than £200m of taxpayers’ money in reserves which Liberal Democrat councillors and unions say should be spent on services.
Last year’s cuts saw the merging of children’s centres, axing of youth support staff, reduction of day centres for adults with learning disabilities, and the closure of three care homes for the elderly.
This year, the council plans to save millions by merging corporate services in a new department. There will be some job losses but on a smaller scale. Adult social services is losing three posts, library and museum services 14, and children services four.
The council tax and the rest of the 2013-14 budget will be rubber-stamped by the full council on February 21.