A FIVE per cent council tax increase, charges for household waste centres and cuts to bus subsidies are among Hampshire County Council (HCC) proposals to save £140m from its budget.

The HCC cabinet discussed in a meeting on Monday (October 16) how to meet the savings needed, which are on top of £340m which has already been slashed from the council’s funds since 2008.

The significant shortfall comes as a result from loss of central government funding, inflationary and demographic changes, according to council leader, councillor Roy Perry.

Despite the pressures, the authority is hoping to make a £500,000 fund available to town and parish councils willing to help communities, and increase funding for children’s services.

Cllr Perry said: “I remain firmly of the view that our priority must continue to be supporting the growing numbers of vulnerable children and adults who rely on our care, and for whom we have a statutory responsibility – an approach residents have told us they also support.

“It is important to be aware that we are actually considering almost an £8 million increase in the funding allocated to children’s care.”

Recommendations made to the cabinet were based on findings from its “Balancing the Budget” public consultation which had approximately 3,700 respondents from Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents.

A majority of participants agreed the council should continue its financial strategy, agreed to raising existing charges and introducing new charges to keep services running, and generating additional income was the most preferred option for balancing the council’s budget.

HCC Baddesley ward cllr Alan Dowden spoke in opposition to the cabinet’s plans, claiming the savings will cause hardship to Hampshire’s “most vulnerable” and that the public consultation lacked any creditability.

Cllr Dowden said: “Certain areas within these budgetary cuts do not make any sense, for example to completely strip Community Transport services of their grants and remove bus subsidies makes no sense at all.”

“You are challenging health & adult social care to find a further £56 million of savings over the next two years at a time when social care budgets have already made savings of £181 million since 2010 and at a time with ever increasing demands on its services.

“You are now seeking that more care provision is provided within the community by hoping voluntary organisations, family, friends, and neighbours will assist with providing the social care requirement that obviously will be needed.

“I have had a number of responses from some charitable organisations and all are totally opposed to the cuts you are making.

“If the government can find a few billion more to gain the support of DUP in order to keep them in power, why can’t they find extra funding for social care?”

The cabinet’s recommendations will be put before full council on Thursday 2, November.