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Southampton councillors to try and balance budget

Southampton City Council needs to save £98m by April 2017 Credit: ITV Meridian

Councillors in Hampshire are due to consider how to balance the county council's budget later.

Its leader says it's facing its most "challenging period" - after forty eight million pounds was cut from the authority's government funding.

Campaigners protest over plans to cut £98m from Southampton's budget Credit: ITV Meridian

"We are facing the most challenging period of the prolonged national austerity measures. In Hampshire, this means having to deliver savings of £98 million by April 2017, rising to a further £140 million of savings by 2019/20."

"We have a strong reputation for careful financial planning, which has delivered £240 million of savings since 2008, but it's clear that having lost so much of our Government grant, future savings will become even harder to find.

"Our approach to date, has focused on running the County Council more efficiently by reducing the cost of back office functions; using savings to help protect front line services; and prudently using some reserves to manage the costs of change.

"We are proposing to continue applying these principles in the years ahead, as well as considering an increase in council tax for the first time in six years - an approach which was supported by the majority of people who fed back to us during our summer consultation.

"This option is being put forward because of the blow we received before Christmas when Government announced more drastic cuts to the local authority funding formula, which impact particularly badly on County Councils. This translates into a further £15 million gap in our budget by 2017/18 - and that's taking into account the amount we could receive if we put up council tax by just under 4% each year, in line with the Government's expectations. "The percentage includes 2% to help specifically fund adult social care - even though this only provides £10 million against anticipated costs of £35 million in adult social care, next year."

– County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry