Thursday, February 11, 2016
Lancashire County Council has approved a budget for 2016/17 incorporating revised plans for transport to day centres for disabled and elderly people.
Under the new plans, the county council will use its own fleet of travel care buses to provide transport for more than 1000 elderly and disabled people who use the county's day care centres. The buses will also continue to be used separately for their current role of taking children with special educational needs and disabilities to and from the county's special schools.
Other adjustments to the budget include an agreement to ensure that Wyre residents can use their NOW cards to access the Blackpool Tramway.
And, a proposed reduction in funding for the county council's flood risk management service has been dropped.
Meanwhile councillors agreed an amendment put forward by the Independent group, which will see cross-party working groups formed to agree how to implement the budget decisions. Their work will be supported by a contingency fund of £3 million to help reduce the impact of changes to services.
A further amendment from the Conservative group was also passed adding an additional £500,000 to the highways budget.
Full Council also agreed that Council Tax for 2016/17 be increased by 1.99% plus a 2% increase specifically for social care services.
County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "We face an unprecedented financial challenge as a result of relentless cuts in central government funding combined with a rising demand for our services, which means we've had to take a number of extremely difficult decisions.
"We are acutely aware of the impact of these decisions and have listened to the views of local people before finalising the budget. I'm pleased that we have been able to come up with an innovative solution to transport vulnerable elderly and disabled people to our day centres, and to support the use of the Blackpool Tramway, despite the severe financial constraints.
"However we've had no choice but to cut a number of services that people value, because the council simply can't afford to deliver them anymore. I cannot explain just how difficult it is to make decisions like these and yet the reality is that there are more ahead as the council will have to find a further £200m of savings by 2020.
"We also need to spend the council's useable reserves to balance the budget over the next two years and it is not clear at this point how we will be able to deliver even statutory services beyond that point."