Thursday, 11 July 2013

Lancashire County Council to tackle £300m budget challenge

County Council leader Jennifer Mein:
"challenging" times ahead as more
cuts demanded by government
Lancashire County Council is to develop a four-year budget strategy to find savings worth around £300m, in response to further cuts in funding from government and increasing costs.

The first routine meeting of the county council's new Cabinet took place earlier today and heard that the financial challenge facing the county council is set to continue for the next four years.

The anticipated £300m savings target from 2014 to 2018 is equivalent to 38% of the county council's current budget, and reflects reductions in funding on top of increasing costs and rising demand for many services.

By taking a longer term view, the council believes it can place a greater focus on ways of preventing cost increases, such as preventative measures and early intervention. This wouldn't be possible with a one year budget.

Leader of the county council Jennifer Mein said: "The county council has already had to save £222m over the current three-year budget but there is no doubt this next period will be even more challenging.

"As a new administration we have a considerable amount of work to do over the coming months to understand the options available and develop a strategy for finding these savings.

"What is already clear, however, is that this won't be a case of simply delivering the same services on a slightly smaller scale. We will have to do something more radical to enable the council to continue serving residents effectively, with an emphasis on those in most need."

Deputy Leader, David Borrow, holds the finance portfolio in the new Cabinet. He added: "Our objective will be to produce a four-year strategy that gives the public and employees alike some certainty and clarity a bout how we will overcome this challenge.

"The scale of the challenge is huge but we will strive to bring forward proposals that produce the best outcome for people across Lancashire and ensure the most vulnerable members of our communities continue to get the support they need.

"It is worth highlighting that the council has an extremely capable workforce and I've every confidence that we will get through this very difficult situation as an effective council whose services are valued by those who use them."

Senior managers will work with Cabinet members over the coming months to develop budget proposals for consideration by Cabinet later in the year, with a four-year financial plan and strategy considered for approval by Full Council in February 2014.

The Spending Review 2013 announced by George Osborne last month provided financial information for the whole of local government. While this helps with budget estimates, the ! council will find out its local government settlement towards the end of December.

The Cabinet's budget proposals are expected to be published for consultation early in the New Year.

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