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Council's plan to protect services through economic uncertainty

Lancashire County Council has drawn up proposals to protect services in a time of economic uncertainty and pressures on all public service budgets.

A savings plan will be considered by the council's cabinet next week that dramatically reduces the projected budget deficit for the coming years.

In September, the cabinet was told that there was an estimated financial gap of more than £87m for the next financial year, and nearly £160m by 2027. This was because of a range of factors out of the council's control, including rising inflation and energy costs.

The savings and efficiency proposals being put forward to the cabinet would see this reduce to £20m next year, and £41.4m by 2027, which can be managed through reserves and the identification of further savings or income generation in the coming years.

County Councillor Alan Vincent, who is deputy leader and has cabinet responsibility for finance, said: "We know there are significant pressures on the British economy right now and that has a huge knock-on impact for the council's budget.

"It's our duty to safeguard the vital services we provide to our most vulnerable residents and this plan means we can do this.

"We will have to make difficult decisions, but our good financial stewardship means that we are in a strong position to weather this storm."

The detailed savings proposals will see funding reductions in some longer-term projects, an acceleration of programmes that will generate savings through doing things better, bringing forward schemes that will generate economic growth, and stronger collaboration between the council and other public sector partners.

The council will also be scrutinising its staffing costs, with an assessment of how many vacancies need to be filled, and how the use of expensive agency costs can be reduced. At this stage the council hopes to avoid redundancies.

There is continuing uncertainty with what the funding position will be for the council in the coming years, and our actual funding position is not expected to be known until later in the autumn after the Chancellor's fiscal statement.

The cabinet paper can be read here.