Future of local government

How councils across Hampshire provide services in the future was discussed by councillors on Wednesday 30 November 2016 following a county-wide review.

The debate, at the Community Environment and Partnerships committee, followed a review of local government in Hampshire that looked at the best way of ensuring services meet local needs and are delivered in the most efficient ways. This was carried out by leading independent advisor PwC on behalf of the 14 district and unitary councils in Hampshire.

The review found that £100 million a year could be saved and reinvested into services that benefit residents, by creating five unitary councils in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - two in the north and three in the south. These would provide services currently delivered by 15 Hampshire councils separately.

An alternative to this option would be leaving the existing councils as they are, for the time being, and creating two ‘combined authorities’, as overview bodies for the north and the south of the county, with more joined up working between county and district services to improve efficiency and better tailor services to local needs. This would additionally allow devolution of national powers, such as health services, to these larger bodies to promote even more joined-up services in local areas, bringing up to an extra £60million in government funding to Hampshire.

This outcome of the review follows Hampshire County Council backing off from the idea of it becoming a ‘mega council’ providing all services across the county, after a lack of public support of this in its summer 2016 consultation. Most of the residents responding (74%) said they preferred local councils to have more control of their services.

The reports below were commissioned and funded by the 14 district and unitary authorities across Hampshire:

  • The Heart of Hampshire which includes the area of the county covered by Basingstoke and Deane, Hart, New Forest, Rushmoor, Test Valley and Winchester councils.

  • The Solent Combined Authority which includes the areas of Southampton, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Eastleigh and East Hampshire.

PwC’s work was shaped by initial interviews with all Leaders and Chief Executives of all local authorities in Hampshire and was informed by financial information provided by the district, unitary and county councils across Hampshire.

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