The budget protects those services that local people most value and there have also been additional areas of investment for next year, including:
- £99,000 to fund PCSOs
- Creating a special reserve of £50,000 to improve the district’s markets
- Setting aside £10,000 for a city centre cycle race to continue the legacy of the Olympics
- Creating a new post of an empty homes officer to bring empty properties in the district back into use
- Introducing the Living Wage for the council’s lowest paid employees
The budget also looks ahead for the future and aims to balance the council’s priorities and plans with the reduced resources that will impact significantly from 2014/15.
Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “This is a balanced and sensible budget which protects those services that people most value and plans for the future.
“In the face of unprecedented cuts to our finances I’m proud at what we’ve been able to achieve but the focus must now be on future years to make sure we are able to cope with further reductions to our income.
“The council has lost 27 per cent of its funding over the last few years and over the next two years forecasts show we’ll need to reduce our net spending by £2.3million," she revealed. "The difficulty we face is that we can’t continue to make efficiency savings and service reductions without there being a marked impact on those services most valued by local people.”
To protect services in the future the city council’s portion of Council Tax will rise by 1.99 per cent. In real terms this mean households will pay an average (based on a Band D property) of an extra £3.84 a year – or 7p a week – to the city council from April 2013.
As 80 per cent of the district's homes are in the lowest bands (A to C) the actual increase will be even lower than 7p a week for the majority of households.
Low paid households who receive full Council Tax benefit will also not be affected by the small increase. The council has previously agreed that its new local council tax support scheme will maintain benefits at current levels for at least one year.
Council house tenants will also see their rents frozen at the current levels for the next year.