PLANS on how county bosses will spend taxpayers’ money over the next year have moved a step closer.

Cabinet members at Hampshire County Council have approved the proposed budget for 2020/21 and an investment plan which would see a total of £386.5m invested in roads, transport, children and adult social care services over the next three years.

But as part of the proposal for the 2020/21 budget, there would also be a total 3.99 per cent increase in the county council’s council tax precept – of which 2 per cent would be specifically for adults’ social care.

The proposed increase will see the council tax for a Band D property increase by £49.41 per annum to £1,286.28.

Council leader Keith Mans described the proposed budget as “prudent and positive”.

But opposition leader Keith House said he is worried about the proposals.

As previously reported, the budget comes as at the end of last year the county council approved plans to save £80m by 2021.

At the cabinet meeting held in Winchester on Monday (Feb 3),  Councillor House said: “I’m an optimist but when I look at this budget I’m worried because we now have ten years of the same report in front of this cabinet. Nothing is really changing and my concern is that the question I have been asking in recent years has not been answered, which is what is the strategy to deal with years and years of cuts from the government?”

He also suggested that developing community libraries rather than proposing to close some libraries would be a better solution.

As part of the 2020/21 budget, the county council is also proposing to invest up to £2m to tackle climate change and  an extra £3m to maintain roads.

A total of £481m would be invested in adult social care and  health services while an extra £22m would be invested in children’s services.

Meanwhile a total of £56m will be invested in environment and transport between 2020 and 2023, with a £27m investment planned for 2020/21.

As regards the investment for the next three years civic chiefs are also pledging to invest £94.8m for new and extended school buildings in Hampshire; £115.8m for structural maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges and £107.7m for major improvement of school and county council building. More than £10m is also set to be spent on cycle and walking facilities. Meanwhile a total of £56m will be invested in environment and transport between 2020 and 2023, with a £27m investment planned for 2020/21.

Cllr Mans said the budget and increase in the council tax precept takes into account the increase in demand in areas such as adult social care.

Hitting back at Cllr House he also stressed that the public consultation on the future of Hampshire libraries is still open and said it is an opportunity for residents and councillors to suggest new options.

Talking to the Local Democracy Service after the meeting, he said  the future of the county’s finances will also depend on the decision the government will make.He said the proposed budget is based on the “success we had in the past of delivering high quality services at an economic price”

He added: "We would all like to plan further in the long term but we have to be flexible because much of our funding depends on decision taken outside Hampshire. I regard this as a positive budget.”He stressed the increasing demand in adult social care and added: “We use early savings to ensure that these areas that are the most difficult to find savings have more time to do so.”

The final decision on the proposals will be made by full council on February 13.