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Friday, July 19, 2024

Council to consider recommendation on council tax

A proposal to freeze the level that council tax is increased in Lancashire will be put to councillors next week.
Members of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet agreed this afternoon to make the recommendation, which would see a 1.99% increase in council tax plus an extra 2% rise for adult social care, 1% below the maximum possible increase of 4.99%.

Councillors heard that there are ongoing pressures on services, particularly relating to demand for Adults and Children’s Social Care along with significant inflationary pressures resulting from a number of factors including the war in Ukraine.

Significant work has been undertaken in the last year to review opportunities for improved productivity and improved value for money and cabinet members now believe the financial outlook is optimistic.

Members heard that there were several areas where future investment had been considered, but it was thought to be more important to freeze the level at which council tax rises to 1.99% plus the adult social care element of 2%, equating to a total of 3.99%.

The only extra expenditure being recommended will be £750k to ensure the managed security of the council’s IT system and £200k to expand the programme of sustainable travel in the county, with the aim of attracting extra Government investment.

In comparison, around 80 per cent of county councils are intending to raise the full 4.99% on council tax that they levy without having to ask their residents permission to do so in a referendum.

Latest figures show, subject to confirmation of final funding levels, the revised forecast funding gap for 2023/24 is £9.501m.

While this position is better than expected, it is an increase of £7.760m on the previously reported position in January, with the forecast gap rising to £23.286m by 2026/27.

The council’s focus remains that of protecting residents and supporting the economy, and the budget has been developed with these two priorities at the forefront.

County Councillor Alan Vincent, deputy leader of the council, said: “Raising Council Tax is never a decision that we take lightly, but under current circumstances we believe it is essential to protecting services.

“As a cabinet, we recognise the challenging environment for Lancashire people and businesses, and for that reason we will be recommending that the increase be the same as last year, 3.99%.

“This is less than the maximum 4.99% that councils are allowed to increase council tax without a referendum, and at the same time we believe the proposed increase will also support our most vulnerable residents and our economic growth.

“We need to get the balance right, and take a responsible approach in difficult times, while maintaining our determination to deliver good value for money.

“By continuing our sound financial management, we will create the opportunity to consider future investment in priority services, and mean we are less reliant on our reserves.

“The final decision will be taken at our full council meeting on February 9th.”

For more information visit Council – Agenda for Cabinet on Thursday, 2nd February, 2023, 2.00 pm (lancashire.gov.uk)


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