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Lancashire freezes Council Tax

Congratulations to Lancashire County Council, gained by the Conservatives from Labour least year. The new administration have announced a Council Tax freeze this year and savings of £24 million.

The Council leader Cllr Geoff Driver, says:

"Throughout this process, we have stuck to our promise that there would be no increase in council tax this year.

"In the current economic climate, people's finances are being squeezed and it is only fair to the people we serve that we tighten our belts so that their council tax doesn't increase.

"We're also acting now to get the council into shape to face the future and to protect those services that the people of Lancashire tell us are most important to them.

"This budget is about planning ahead for the coming years when all councils will face increased pressures and demands on their finances and services. With some tough decisions ahead of us, we are acting now to put the council in a strong position to face these difficult times."

Looking at the papers I can see that saving money in Lancashire is a process rather than an event - with the Cabinet squeezing out some further efficiency savings this week. But the main savings were approved at the Cabinet meeting on January 7. Savings

They include £700,000 on office accomodation, £400,000 on "reablement" (helping the elderly regain indepedence after an operation rather than requiring permanent care) and £685,000 by placing more "Looked After" children for adoption. Millions were saved in deleting various management posts. There would be many small savings that add up to a lot (deleting an Equality and Diversity post £36,000, proving pay slips online rather than paper payslips £50,000.) Cutting down on the number of scrutiny co-ordinatros by not replacing those retiring will save £128,000.

Councillors are setting an example by saving £19,000 on conference fees and £34,000 on expenses. £190,000 is being saved on the use of consultants. Closure of the Council's Brussels Office will save £62,000. Spending on corporate communications is going down by £125,000. Money will cease being wasted on talking shops - the "Lancashire Locals" committees.

The greater efficiencies have also meant an improved service - for example putting all planning applications online. More spending has been found for priorities such as fixing potholes. 

Already we can see that in Lancashire switching from Labour to the Conservatives means better value for money


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