Members of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet have been updated about the authority’s financial position at a meeting today.
The report to the cabinet presents a forecast underspend position £0.506m for 2019/20 following the first quarter of the financial year, which represents 0.06 per cent of the agreed budget of £802m.
However the report also provides an updated medium term financial strategy, but highlights the uncertainties surrounding future funding for local government which have made it difficult to forecast what will happen in the medium to long term.
Despite these challenges a revised forecast has been prepared which anticipates the financial gap for 2020/21 has reduced to £5.895m. This figure has been based on assumptions that still need to be confirmed, but at this stage are the best estimates available.
In the longer term the forecast gap by 2022/23 is expected to increase by £17.429m to £64.755m, primarily due to increased pay costs and service demand pressures, such as transport costs and increased children’s social care requirements.
At this stage because of the level of uncertainty, it has not been possible to meaningfully extend the forecast into 2023/24. The report was also published prior to yesterday’s spending review which set out spending plans for the 2020/21 financial year only, with a multi-year spending review to follow in 2020. The review announced a number of changes to departmental spending levels, including additional funding for adult social care, the potential impact of which on our medium term financial strategy position is being analysed and changes will be reflected when the updated position is next reported to Cabinet later in the financial year.
Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the council, said: “There is currently an unprecedented amount of uncertainty relating to future funding across local government which has made it difficult to forecast our long term position.
“However already good progress has been made in cutting the £200m deficit, helping us to balance our books.
“We are working hard to review our services to ensure value for money at the same time as providing the best services for the people of Lancashire, particularly our older residents and children who need our help and support.
“Like all councils we face significant financial pressures, but it is our aim to make sure the council is on a stable footing, not just now, but into the future.”
For more information on the council’s financial position click here http://council.lancashire.gov.uk/documents/s155663/Report.pdf