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Council reveals financial picture

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Red Rose Lancashire

Lancashire County Council has revealed a net expenditure of £800.534million for the financial year 2019/20, representing a small underspend of around £1.741million.

The areas with the largest expenditures were Adult Service, with a spend of £340.705million, Education and Children’s Services, with £191.128million and Highways and Transport with £127.681million.

The figures, presented to members of the Cabinet, show the council is continuing on track with its ambition of balancing its budget by 2023/4.

During 2019/20 the authority drew £10.245million from reserves, leaving it with transitional reserves of £151.199.

Budget savings of £53.275million were delivered during the year, ending in March, with the most significant savings reported in Adults Services, with £30.744million, Resources, £10.178million and Education and Children’s Services, £7.409million.

However, members of the Cabinet have been warned the current Covid 19 pandemic does pose a risk to the future financial position of the council, with the impacts set to be subject to significant regular monitoring and scrutiny.

The meeting was told no emergency budget would be needed because of the council’s strong financial reserves.

A total of an extra £56million to support the authority as it deals with the pandemic has already been received from central Government, with a share of a further £500million set to be confirmed shortly.

Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the council, said: “The financial achievements up to the end of March were very positive and showed the council’s finances have improved significantly over the past three years.

“The council has a strong track record of delivering savings agreed in recent budget cycles thanks to good financial stewardship and we have a strong plan to make further savings to ensure the budget will be balanced.

“We still continue to face strong challenges, including an increase in demand for services caused by an aging population, plus significant demand in children’s social care.

“In both of these areas we will continue to work hard to protect the vulnerable who need these services, as well as support other services which are important to the people of Lancashire.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has underlined just how important the services of the council are, and the lifeline we provide for so many people.

“It is still too early to tell what the financial implications will be because of the pandemic, and we will of course continue to carefully monitor the situation and any potential impacts.”

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