Leaders of the County Councils in the South East lobbied MP's about the likely impact on the council tax next year if the Government does not increase the amount of grant that they get.
"Last year, Gordon Brown put in an extra £1 billion. But that was just for last year - before the General Election - and that amount needs to be put again this year to avoid large increases. Hampshire County Council are between a rock and a hard place; if they are to deliver the services the Government wants, that means increases of up to 10%. But if they are capped at 5% - as the Government has threatened - then services such as those for the elderly are likely to be hit."
Hampshire County Council Leader Ken Thornber met Hampshire MP's James Arbuthnot, Maria Miller and Mark Hoban, along with Sir George.
"At the meeting, I suggested that the Council Leaders focus on Labour MP's in the South East, whose constituents will feel the pain. We need an all-party effort to get a square deal for the Home Counties. The Government is continuing to shift funds to the Midlands and the North. Ratepayers in Durham get £200 more each than ratepayers in the South East - where costs are higher."
Below is the text of the Hampshire County Council briefing
Hampshire County Council is committed to keeping council tax low for residents. However, in 2006/07, in order to do everything Government says we should, based on current funding, we will have to increase council tax by 8.5%
If capped at 5% we will be forced to make cuts in services despite efficiency savings of £16m this year. In addition to a further 2.5% efficiency improvements. Hampshire will be facing total cuts of £8m.
It is anticipated that Hampshire County Council will receive one of the lowest grant allocations for county councils in 2006/07.
Every family in the UK is dependent on County Council services, from highway maintenance to dealing with waste, from education to providing care for older people and from library services to consumer protection. But each year the Government takes more money from families in the South East to give to families in the midlands and the north. In Hampshire, £29m has already been taken and Government are now consulting on further changes which could take away up to another £37m.
The South East needs to spend more on public services, not less, to provide the services and infrastructure required to support the 28,900 new homes to be built across the region each year for the next 20 years. But money to maintain roads, which have had to take a doubling of traffic since 1980 will face big cuts in spending as revenue grants for road repairs is set to fall in real terms.
A recent survey undertaken by the Local Government Association demonstrated that new standards, more legislation and policy demands are resulting in a black hole of UP to £2.2bn.
Hampshire County Council is no-t asking for more money than anyone else. Instead, the Government should treat those who live in the South East fairly, by recognising the cost pressures we all face, so that pensioners, for example, can at last pay a similar level of council tax to pensioners in other parts of England and Wales, for the same service.
Hampshire County Council, an "excellent" rated authority by the Audit Commission under CPA wants to continue to provide top rate services with council tax in the lowest quartile. Projects such as Enhance, which has provided 500 new nursing bed places in nine locations across the county, and the Accredited Community Safety Officer (ACSO) scheme which has gone a long way in combating anti-social behaviour in communities are initiatives we are proud of.