Auditors praise council's financial handling

A FINANCIAL probe carried out by external auditors has backed Hampshire County Council’s approach to securing value for money amid unprecedented financial pressures.

‘Sustainable, sound, low cost, robust and performing well’ were among words used to describe the arrangements that the council has in place to secure value for money in the way it uses taxpayers’ money.

The audit letter received by members of the audit committee on 5 December covers the year up to 31 March, 2013.

Further to that inspection the council is on target to secure savings of around £200m that are necessary, largely due to the loss of around 40 per cent of central government grant and more people needing care.

The budget for 2014/15 will be agreed in February 2014 and it is being prepared with an assumption that the county council will deliver a council tax freeze for taxpayers for the fourth year in a row, one that is the lowest of county councils in the south east and one of the lowest in the country.

Welcoming the external validation, council leader Roy Perry said: “Hampshire’s strong financial position is testament to the early action we took to plan ahead for the challenges lying ahead.

“While other councils will be trying to balance their budgets for next year we are slightly ahead of the game and able to make investments that will deliver better outcomes at lower cost.

“That’s not to say that finding a further 12 per cent cut in spending across all services won’t be a huge challenge for us, but the decisions we make in the New Year will be based around further growth and improvement.”

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