County Hall Preston

Council acts to future proof services

Lancashire County Council has acted to future proof its services in light of the expected increase in the cost of living.

Members of the council's Cabinet heard that at the end of the financial year in April, the council had an underspend of £29.9m from a budget of £881.4million.

The underspend was as a result of an ‘exceptional’ year due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on council services. The council also received a number of one of grants from Central Government as part of the Covid response which it has used to support services.

The underspend has meant that further investment has been possible in a number of areas, including a computer system to improve school admission processing, extra money towards energy costs and repaying a substantial loan, which will save on future interest payments, as well as funding to meet the needs of the services in the future.
The amount of money now in reserves stands at £215.7m, although savings are still needed to ensure the authority is able to balance its books by 2024/25, when a funding gap is expected.

Deputy leader Councillor Alan Vincent said: “We have been planning for some time to ensure we are ready for the increases in the cost of living which everyone is experiencing.

“Thankfully we are actually better prepared than many other similar local authorities as we have a healthy amount in reserves, which we have also just been able to add to.

“We know we will face pressures in some areas which we have no control over. For instance much of our work in highways relies on oil-based products, such as the materials to resurface roads, and costs have escalated.

"However we are looking to deliver all the improvement which we have already announced, and keeping an eye on the situation.

"We do know there is still a lot of work to do in terms of savings, and we will be reviewing our services to make sure we are doing things in the most efficient way possible.

“We are always conscious of getting the best value for our residents, as well as ensuring we providing the best services possible, especially for those most in need.”