Council's underspend to aid Preston savings plan

Preston Council hit its savings target and delivered its financial plan under budget last year, according to a town hall annual report.

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 6:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th May 2018, 6:36 pm
Preston Town Hall

Now halfway through its four-year efficiency plan, officers will inform cabinet members next week that the council’s financial position “has slightly improved.”

However, caution is urged with further major savings targets required before 2020, when the efficiency plan ends, and beyond.

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Major savings have been achieved by offloading the running of two leisure centres to third-party company Greenwich Leisure limited, which generates £700k per year in revenue savings, the report adds.

Although the underspend position means the council can contribute to its reserves “the majority will need to be allocated to funding budgets slipped into 2018/19.”

And with further savings of £0.5m in 2020/21 rising to £1m in 2021/22 identified, the report says earmarked reserves “may be used as a last resort to phase in future savings requirements.”

Officers have also warned that reforms to the business rates system from next year onwards may force the town hall to tweak its financial forecast as local authorities are waiting on central government for further details on how it will work.