Cllr Phillippa Williamson (1)

Ambitious package of measures announced as budget set

AN ambitious package of measures to help Lancashire recover and embrace new opportunities has been announced as the County Council set its' budget for the coming year.

Councillors today approved the measures which include improvements to roads, libraries, support for older people, flood prevention and environmental schemes.

One of the major announcements is the creation of a £5million special investment fund to help Lancashire level up.

It will build on a £12.8million scheme announced last year, whose aim is to encourage major economic recovery in parts of Lancashire which have been hardest hit by the pandemic - stimulating growth, creating jobs and unlocking further investment.

An additional £2.8million will also be spent on top of the usual Highways and Transport budget to ensure road defects which might otherwise have to wait for repair can be dealt with quickly, alongside extra funds to pay for new road signage and additional staff to improve the service.

A further £680,000 will be used to pay for additional gully crews to target drainage work to help prevent flooding across the county.

Partnership work with district councils is also being encouraged, with £470,000 being 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 is set to get a huge boost with £900,000 being made available to support these areas. Of this, £300,000 will be made available for new library books, electronic books and audiobooks, while £500,000 will be used to match-fund local community culture and sport initiatives.

To support Adult Social Care an extra £500,000 will be used to increase the reach of the council's Reablement Service, which aims to help older people stay independent in their own homes, prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and enable timely discharges if someone has been admitted.

A £100,000 scheme to tackle loneliness and social isolation, which has been made worse by the pandemic, is also planned as well as £100,000 funding for a new Best Start in Life scheme to help young children and their families.

While, £400,000 is be used to create an additional Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) unit at a mainstream school, giving parents more choice to choose a school closer to home and family.

Additional funds of £100,000 are also being made available for help through Emergency Welfare Support.

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Leader of the County Council, said: "This is very much a budget which sets out how committed we are to the recovery of Lancashire and our belief we will build back better.

"We also recognise that this is a really 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.

"It also shows that as a council we listen to our residents and want to improve in the areas 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 foe everyone."

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. This equates to an increase of £1.12 a week on a Band D property.

Latest figures show, a financial deficit of £18.840m is anticipated to be met from reserves in 2022/23. By 2024/25 the deficit is expected to be £41.330m.

The council is also forecast to hold £211.750 of uncommitted transitional reserve at the end of this financial year.