Lancashire County Council has this week set a £5 million levelling up fund to improve services across the county.Advertisement
The approved package of measures aims to improve roads, libraries, support for older people, flood prevention and environmental schemes.
The levelling up fund will build on a £12.8 million scheme announced last year to encourage economic recovery in areas hardest hit by the pandemic, stimulating growth, creating jobs and unlocking further investment.
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County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Leader of the County Council, said: “This is a budget that sets out how committed we are to the recovery of Lancashire and our belief that we will build back better.
“We also recognise that this is a hard time for many people and believe that this package of measures will help those in need.
“We understand how important our role is in supporting our most vulnerable residents, with extra help for adult social care and services to support children, as well as those affected by loneliness and social isolation.”
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They will spend an additional £2.8 million alongside the Highways and Transport budget to ensure road defects that might otherwise have to wait for repair are dealt with promptly, alongside extra funds to pay for new road signage and additional staff to improve the service.
A further £680,000 will pay for additional gully crews to target drainage work to help prevent flooding across the county.
Councillor Williamson said: “The fund shows that we listen to our residents and want to improve in the areas that communities feel most strongly about.
“That is why we have provided extra funding for highways repairs, flood prevention and environmental improvements to make Lancashire a better place to live for everyone.”
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Partnership work with district councils is encouraged, with £470,000 made available to help public areas be improved and cleaned up through work such as grass cutting, weed spraying and leaf sweeping.
Culture and sport in the county will receive a £900,000 boost.
Of this, £300,000 will be available for new library books, electronic books and audiobooks, while £500,000 will match-fund local community culture and sports initiatives.
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To support Adult Social Care, £500,000 will increase the reach of the council’s Reablement Service, aiming to help older people stay independent in their homes, prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and enable timely discharges.
A £100,000 scheme will tackle loneliness and social isolation, and £100,000 will be used for a new Best Start in Life scheme to help young children and families.
£400,000 will create an additional Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) unit at a school, allowing parents more choice to choose a school closer to home and family.
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Additional funds of £100,000 are also being made available for help through Emergency Welfare Support.
Members also voted to support an increase in council tax of 3.99 per cent, with 2 per cent of the increase ring-fenced to be spent on adult social care.
It equates to an increase of £1.12 a week on a Band D property.
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The latest figures anticipate a financial deficit of £18.840m, met from reserves in 2022/23.
By 2024/25, the deficit may be £41.330m.
The council is also forecast to hold £211,750 of the uncommitted transitional reserve at the end of this financial year.
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