Savage cuts to funding for services such as waste, schools and social care could be on the cards it’s been warned, after a report found that Lancashire County Council’s finances are not ‘sustainable’ within the next three years.
In a council statement County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, said the 70-page report was commissioned to show its finances were not sustainable and to urge the government to rethink how it supports councils.
He said: “That independent review has now been completed and sets out in stark relief the scale of the challenge we face. The report has identified that the council will need to make savings of £148m in 2020/21, even allowing for council tax increases of 3.99 per cent every year for the next four years.
“Significantly, the report forecasts that the council’s reserves, which we are currently using to balance our budget, will run out in 2018/19.”
According to the findings, adult social care, corporate services, public health, waste, education and highways are set to bear the brunt of the cuts.
Cuts of £66m are planned for adult social care.
Corporate services will be cut by £32.5m; waste services and public health services by £18.4m; education by £16m; and highways by £15m, a reduction of more than 50 per cent.
Coun Borrow said the report would ‘provide an independent review of our financial position to establish the level of resources we will need to provide statutory services we are obliged to deliver by law’.
He added that the report also found even if the council further reduced spending in every service to a level ‘no other council has achieved’, it would still face an annual spending gap of £79m by 2020/21.
Church ward councillor Jean Battle said the government cuts were ‘a nightmare’.
She said: “The report is very grim reading. I was on the County Council for 16 years and government cuts have never been as bad as they are now. We’ll be like a third world country by 2020.
“It doesn’t bear thinking about how elderly people and young people who have come out of care and need support will cope with cuts to adult social care - it will be a complete nightmare.”
The report, compiled by financial experts Pricewaterhouse Coopers, also found Lancashire has the third lowest income from council tax of any county council in the country, which it says reflects both the type of housing in the county and lower prosperity.
The findings will go before the county council’s Cabinet on Thursday, October 6.