Budget cuts by Lancashire County Council will have a huge effect on services in the Lancaster district, city councillors heard last Tuesday.
Although the county council and Lancaster City Councils are separate local authorities with their own budgets, numerous services rely on funding from both organisations.
Many city council services are supported by money from the county council or delivered on its behalf. With the county council cutting its budget this means that city council services will be affected and reduce as a result.
An initial assessment by the city council has found that services for vulnerable people and also environmental services will be most affected:
• Homelessness prevention will be affected with the ending of funding for supported housing schemes. As a result there is expected to be an increase in applications from people in crisis situations.
• Support for community alarms used by council housing tenants will stop by March 2017 and tenants will have to pay the charge for the service.
• Funding to subsidise charges for sheltered housing scheme managers will cease, meaning tenants will have to make up the shortfall.
• Weed spraying will not take place, leaf sweeping will continue but will take longer, grass cutting on rural verges will reduce.
• From April 2016 the county council will no longer allow district councils to collect food waste for recycling.
Reductions in funding that supports the city council’s museums and arts organisations that the city council also supports are also predicted to have an effect on both what's delivered and the local economy.
Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Not only do we now have to deal with the huge government cuts to our own budget, but some of those faced by the county council are inevitably being passed on to us. The county council has been left in an impossible position.
“This ‘double whammy’ is a major blow to many of the services which support some of the most vulnerable people in our society, as well as many of those basic services relied upon by the public in general.
“The city council will do its best to limit the effect these cuts are having on our communities but the overall scale of cuts being faced is unprecedented in living memory.
“Their effect cannot be underestimated and local government and the services it provides will be decimated as a result.”
Lancaster City Council will meet to agree its own budget on 2nd March. Councillors will be recommended to approve a city council basic tax increase of £5 (at Band D). With the majority of properties being in Bands A-C, the actual increase will be less for most households.
While as the billing authority Lancaster City Council collects Council Tax, it only receives around 13% of the total bill to spend on its services.
Of the remaining bill, excluding parishes, the majority goes to Lancashire County Council (73%), with precepts from Lancashire Police Authority (10%) and Lancashire Combined Fire Authority (4%) making up the rest.