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Huge 6 PER CENT hike in LCC council tax charge adds £48 to annual bills

Residents could end up paying at least £70 more after LCC's largest tax rise in a decade

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Lancashire County Council's full council meeting on Thursday

Taxpayers are set to pay an extra £48 a year to county hall after the highest tax rise for a decade was voted through.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) approved its budget for 2018/19 on Thursday and agreed to increase its share of council tax by 5.99 per cent, with three per cent specifically earmarked for adult social care.

Hyndburn council and Lancashire Fire are yet to reveal how much they intend to increase their charges by - but it’s estimated that most residents could pay around £70 more a year in total, or £100 for higher value Band D properties.

The Labour opposition group accused the ruling group of asking residents to ‘pay more for less’.

The county council says the budget has been designed to protect front-line services, especially for vulnerable members of society, while they are battling a multi-million pound financial deficit - predicted to stand at £144 million in 2021/22.

The government is currently in the process of phasing out the revenue support grant which funds many council services.

Conservative County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of LCC, told a heated meeting of the full council that if the authority had not opted for cuts and savings it would ‘very soon have found itself in the same position as Northamptonshire County Council’.

The Northampton council has reportedly been embroiled in a financial crisis, with a projected a £21.1m overspend for 2017/18.

Coun Driver said: “The council is committed to providing the best services it can to the people of Lancashire, particularly to the most vulnerable in our communities.

“However, the council’s financial position remains extremely challenging, with a forecasted funding gap of £144.084 in 2021/22

“This has meant that tough decisions have had to be made to balance the books. This is not unique to Lancashire and many other local authorities are also having to make hard choices.

“I am pleased though that we have been able to make many improvements over the past year, including reopening libraries and supporting bus services in the county.

“The council also plans to spend a further £5 million next year on road repairs, something which we know is important to the county’s residents and businesses.

“We are working very hard with our staff to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services for people, and we have put in an extra £25 million for vulnerable adults and children to ensure the safeguarding of those members of society.”

Coun Azhar Ali, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “A six per cent increase in council tax is twice the rate of inflation and twice the average wage increase. The people of Lancashire are being asked to pay more for less. These are cowardly Conservative cuts!”

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has also been consulting on hiking his own portion of the precept - and is asking whether people would be prepared to pay up to £20 more a year to protect the county’s thin blue line.

Band D residents would pay a minimum of £3.12 extra if he opts for the lowest charge. A number of savings were identified as part of the process and consultations will now take place where service users could be affected.

By 2021/22, LCC predicts it will have a financial deficit of £144.49 million and a cumulative deficit of £381.79 million, even after allowing for savings of £135 million.