Cabinet considered a report of the Chief Finance Officer and Director of Corporate Operations regarding the overall financial strategy for dealing with the budget gap to 2023/24 in light of the various options available to the County Council and the high level outcomes from the public consultation exercise on balancing the budget.
With the agreement of the Chairman, Councillors Porter and House addressed Cabinet. Councillor Porter expressed her concern about specific reductions to the Children’s Services budget, in particular in the areas of fostering, home to school transport, school funding and the youth offending team.
Councillor House welcomed no further changes to HWRC or school crossing patrol budgets, but noted that previously agreed budget reductions had not yet been achieved and expressed concern about Council Chamber refurbishment costs, a reduction in spending on vulnerable adults and an increasing dependence on volunteers to deliver services. He called on Cabinet to meet with Hampshire MPs to lobby for fair funding to support local services.
With reference to the report, key details of the MTFS and SP23 proposals were highlighted to Cabinet, including investment recommendations and proposed recommendations to the County Council.
Cabinet welcomed the report and heard that the Leader held regular meetings with Hampshire MPs to make the case for the importance of fair funding, furthermore service specific issues were brought to government attention via professional networks. It was noted that the Council Chamber was a listed building and provided accommodation for the coroner which would otherwise require alternative facilities, therefore the proposed maintenance was both necessary and cost effective. It was recognised that reductions in the youth offending budget were in combination with initiatives to reduce youth crime and therefore the demand on the service. The benefits of Extra-Care both in terms of cost reduction and the customer experience were set out and noted. Cabinet also discussed the current limitations on home to school transport, which are bound by national legislation, and the potential benefits of being able to control this locally to achieve better alignment with need and the use of more sustainable transport methods.
The recommendations in the report were considered and agreed. A decision record is attached to these minutes.