Lancashire County Council’s latest economy drive has left it with an underspend of more than half a million pounds on services, councillors were told this week.
The £.601m figure for 2015/16 was revealed amid widespread concern over the forthcoming slashing of services ranging from libraries to country parks.
MeanwhileTory opposition leader County Coun Geoff Driver claimed in real terms the council had saved more than £20m because opportunities had been taken “to not draw down on reserves.”
He demanded to know if the ruling Labour group would have taken a different approach to cuts if it had known these savings would be achieved saying: “People might begin to think the deputy leader (finance spokesman) is a bit like the young shepherd who called wolf.”
But councillors were warned by Neil Kissock, the council’s Director of Financial Resources of “difficult times ahead.”
A report to the executive scrutiny committee meeting placed the savings in a wider context, noting the underspend was down to strong financial arrangements and actions.
External accountants are looking to further streamline spending not just in the council, but across the county’s public sector.
The committee was told the council is still in a “high risk” position regarding its longer term financial viability with a repeated prediction that by 2021 it will not be able to meet its legal obligations to provide services.
Today the cabinet will be asked to approve the transfer of the underspend to its reserve and to increase its current capital programme because of projects which were not completed in 2015/16.