Budget challenges remain despite extra support from government

A person writes notes next to a calculator and a receipt

Updated budget proposals for the 2024/25 financial year have been agreed by the council’s executive.

Initial proposals were approved by the executive in January. Although the authority’s spending plans remain unchanged, revised figures from Lincolnshire’s district councils have revealed that less income will be raised through council tax and business rates than expected. This means the county council currently faces a small budget deficit of £500,000 next year.

This is despite a proposed 4.99% increase in the authority’s share of the council tax, which equates to an extra £1.44 per week for a Band D property.

However, the government has recently announced that additional one-off funding will be provided to help with increasing cost pressures, particularly those associated with social care. The council estimates it will receive a further £8m as a result of this announcement.

Cllr Martin Hill OBE, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Once we know exactly how much extra funding we’re getting from the government, we’ll need to consider what impact this has on our plans for next year. However, it’s important to recognise this is one-off funding and doesn’t significantly change the long-term picture. As a result, we still expect to have to use our reserves in future years to make up a funding shortfall.

“Thanks to our careful financial management, Lincolnshire County Council remains in a relatively stable position, and there are no plans to cut services. In addition, despite the proposed increase, our council tax rate is set to remain one of the lowest in the country for a shire county, which will be welcome news given the ongoing pressure on household budgets.”

This year, the council expects to spend almost £650m on providing a wide range of vital services, including:

  • £305m for adult care and community wellbeing
  • £114m for children’s services
  • £49m for highways
  • £25m for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue

The council has managed to find around £9m in savings by reducing bureaucracy and streamlining operations through the use of new technology. However, it faces £61m in additional cost pressures from rising prices and increased demand for services, such as adult care, child protection and school transport. This includes around £6m to fund an unexpected increase in the national living wage recently announced by the government.

The final budget for 2024/25 will be agreed by the full council at their meeting on 23 February.

Published: 6th February 2024