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Hampshire County Council warn of massive savings over two years
JOBS and public services in Hampshire face a fresh round of cuts as county bosses try to fill a £98m black hole.
The bombshell news emerged in county council documents published yesterday – the day after the biggest public sector strikes in decades.
It also comes after Southampton City Council revealed that it was shedding as many as 200 jobs in the next year alone to save £30.8m, threatening disability services and even a care home.
The huge savings at the county council need to be made over a two-year period between 2016 and 2018, with bosses blaming rocketing child and adult social care costs.
The new cuts come on top of £250m that has already been saved over the past five years following ever shrinking central Government funding to councils.
Where the axe will fall has not been revealed, but departments are being warned that it could mean reducing budgets by an unprecedented 14 per cent.
Unions say that as well as threatening hundreds of council jobs, there is a risk to public services.
Andy Straker, Unison regional organiser, said: “You saw it happen in Southampton last week and now in Hampshire.
“This will affect our members but it is affecting service users as well.
“We need to stand up to say enough is enough, otherwise the services we use will be gone forever.
“This council needs to talk to its fellow colleagues in Government, its fellow Conservatives, and say we can’t keep going on with these cuts.”
County council leader Councillor Roy Perry, below, said: “I well understand the Government’s need to bring public expenditure back under control, but with further grant reductions to come and no let-up in demand for care services – that are becoming more expensive to provide – decisions around future spend are becoming increasingly difficult.
“We will continue to make further efficiencies and maximise return on every pound spent – while at the same time, finding furt h e r opportunities to create new and sustainable ways of providing quality public services to the residents of Hampshire.
“Having been at the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth this week, I have heard from other council leaders who face similar problems and recognise that Hampshire is one of the most successful councils in addressing the financial situation.”
But an official report published yesterday admitted: “This is clearly a very challenging prospect given the value of savings that have already been taken out of the system.”
As well as making cuts, the council hopes that a new digital strategy will transform and modernise services.
There are even plans to generate income by providing services for other councils.
If the plans go ahead, large parts of Oxfordshire County Council’s finance and human resources departments will be transferred to a business centre run by Hampshire County Council – which has been tight-lipped about the worth of this contract.