Cutbacks at Lancashire County Council are set to become even more severe.Advertisement
County council leaders say the latest financial settlement from Whitehall leaves them £11 million worse off than they had planned. County Hall must now find £303.3m of savings by April 2020.
County Councillor Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We knew that the financial settlement would be bad news and that was reflected in our forecasts, but the actual figures are even worse than we had feared. The council’s funding situation was already unprecedented in its severity and now it is going to be harder still to maintain the services people rely on.
“Our main priority will remain to protect services for the most vulnerable people in society, who cannot get by without the council’s support, but even doing that will be ever more challenging in the next few years.
“We’re currently consulting on budget proposals that highlight the fact the council cannot afford to keep running all of its services in their current form, and indeed that it appears some will have to stop altogether. I’m still keen to hear people’s views and suggestions as to how some of those services might be delivered differently in future but the reality is that even once this year’s budget is agreed the council will still have to find more than another £200m worth of savings.”
Proposals from the county council include shutting five museums, including the Museum of Lancashire in Preston.
There are also likely to be closures and changes to libraries across Lancashire, with many library users already petitioning the council to save their local library.
Beacon Fell may lose its visitor centre and the countryside service could also disappear.
Deputy Leader David Borrow, who holds the finance portfolio, said: “County councils have come out worst under the Government’s new funding formula and we’re talking to Government about how and whether the effects of this can be reduced, but it’s an unavoidable fact we now have to take even more money out of services across Lancashire.
“Even before this latest announcement, we knew that the council will not have sufficient financial resources to meet its statutory obligations by April 2018 based on current spending levels and demand for services. Over the next two years the council will need to rely heavily on spending its reserves in order to balance its budget, and that money can only be spent once.
“The Chancellor has said that the Revenue Support Grant will end in 2019/20 to be replaced by the money raised by business rates. It is now more important than ever that any changes to the funding formula reflect the essential role of county councils, not least in delivering social care in the communities they serve.”
The county council is currently consulting on its budget proposals, which would save £64.8m. The proposals and the chance to have your say is on the county council website.
Preston City Council is also consulting on its budget plans, as it faces a further £4m cutback in its budget and announced proposals to bring in a £30-a-year charge for collecting brown bins filled with garden waste from tens of thousands of homes in the city.
What do you think the county council should do? What do you make of the cutbacks? Let us know in the comments below