Papers published ahead of a meeting of the full council on Thursday show that County Hall plans to raise its share of the bill by 4.99 percent – the maximum allowed without having to call a local referendum.
If approved, the move will add just under £70 to the annual cost of council tax on a Band D property in the county, bringing the total to £1,470 - excluding the smaller amounts taken by district and parish councils and the police and fire service. The lowest-rated properties, in Band A, would pay £980 to the county council, while the highest – Band H – would have to contribute £2,940 (see below for all bands and the proposed increases).
Under the proposals, a three percent rise will be ringfenced to help fund adult social care costs, via a special precept permitted by the government for that purpose. The remaining 1.99 percent increase will contribute towards all council services – on which £852m will be spent across the county council area during 2021/22.
Council tax makes up the lion’s share of County Hall’s budget and is forecast to bring in £545m in the coming year.
At a cabinet meeting last month, final confirmation of the level of proposed increase in bills was delayed, pending the latest financial information.
Papers to be presented to a virtual gathering of the authority show that there will be a forecast funding gap of £47.6m by 2023/24 – that is down by more than 75 percent from almost £200m four years ago, but up by £9m on the estimate made this time 12 months ago.
The budget report notes that “any decisions taken not to increase council tax…would increase the financial gap”.
Reserves are forecast to stand at £159.4m by the end of March and are sufficient to bridge any gaps through until 2023/24. However, the authority intends to seek further savings to put it on a sustainable financial footing.
The county council has already earmarked £24.2m in budget reductions over the next two years, while it is yet to realise £24.8m of the £51.1m planned for the current financial year because of the pressures caused by the pandemic.
In spite of the remote nature of the budget meeting this year, it is likely still to be a lively debate, with on-the-day amendments from across the political spectrum designed to tempt the folk of Lancashire ahead of county council elections, which the government has now confirmed will take place as planned on 6th May.
WHAT WILL I PAY?
If the council tax rise is approved, this is what it will mean for bills in each property band in 2021/22 (compared to 2020/21). The figures relate to the county council's share of council tax bills in Lancashire and exclude the smaller amounts taken by district and parish councils, the police and fire service. Council tax in the standalone local authority areas of Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen is set separately.
BAND A - up £46.58 to £980.13
BAND B - up £54.35 to £1,143.49
BAND C - up £62.11 to £1,306.84
BAND D - up £69.88 to £1,470.20
BAND E - up £85.41 to £1,796.91
BAND F - up £100.94 to £2,123.62
BAND G - up £116.46 to £2,450.33
BAND H - up £139.76 to £2,940.40