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Saturday, March 03, 2018

New initiatives agreed as Council sets budget for 2018/19

West Lancashire Borough Council has set its budget for the next financial year, ensuring the continuation of current frontline services and approving several important projects that will bring benefits across the borough.

Like many councils across the UK, West Lancashire Borough Council continues to face a challenging financial position. As a result of reductions in government grant funding and other factors, the annual budget requirement has been reduced by well over 30% in the last eight years. To achieve this, the Council has had to make savings and generate additional income amounting to more than £10 million.

This includes approximately £1 million in savings and income that have been identified for the forthcoming financial year. Despite this economic prudence the Council still needs to save or raise additional income of between £1.5 million and £2 million by 2020/21 to meet the budget gap created primarily by reductions in central government funding.

Next year’s budget has been set in this financial context and will maintain frontline services with targeted investment in a number of key areas. These decisions were made at the Council meeting on 28 February 2018, when Councillors met to agree the budget for the 2018/19 financial year. In preparing this budget the Council has worked hard to maximise efficiency and income, avoid service reductions and to find funding for important projects.

A key project of the Council for 2018/19 will see £440,000 invested in Refuse and Recycling Services to make things easier for residents to store cardboard and paper for recycling. From June 2018 residents will be able to place cardboard and paper in the green bins currently used for garden waste, instead of the blue bags. A new brown bin, or more if they had more last year for garden waste, will be supplied to residents signing up for the garden waste collection scheme. The changes will make it easier for residents to recycle and will help to keep streets tidier. The bin collection will also make the collection rounds more efficient.

The Council has also agreed £183,000 funding for Phase Two of the Moor Street scheme which will see environmental improvements between Moorgate and Railway Road and demonstrates the Borough Council's ongoing commitment to the Ormskirk Town Centre Strategy.

Other important initiatives the Council has agreed include investing £135,000 in ICT facilities to increase efficiency, and spending £130,000 on introducing LED lights in its main office sites as part of the Council's commitment to tackling climate change.

As a result of the government reductions to local authority funding, the Council has had difficult decisions to make. As part of these Council Tax has had to be increased by 2.99%, which equates to £5.73 (or 11 pence per week) on a Band D Council Tax property. The majority of West Lancashire residents live in Band A and Band B properties, which will see a rise of £3.82 per week and £4.46 per week respectively.

Councillor Adam Yates, portfolio holder for Finance, said: "For the best part of a decade, this Council has had its funding reduced year on year by central government. This is set to continue over the next three years and so we face further significant financial challenges ahead. However, we are determined to maintain frontline services and to promote growth by investing in our towns and villages across the borough. Through initiatives such as our new development company, we will be looking to generate additional income and make a positive social impact by providing more affordable housing across West Lancs. We are also undertaking a full strategic review of all Council services to improve accessibility for residents and to deliver further efficiencies where possible.

“We are also asking residents in the top two Council Tax Bands to make a voluntary contribution of £100 to support a fund for important community projects such as the Junk Food Café in Skelmersdale."

Council Tax
The Council Tax for West Lancashire Borough Council for the average Band D property in 2018/19 will be £197.49 per year or around £3.80 a week.
Just over 11% of the Council Tax comes to the Borough Council. The total council tax includes charges from Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Constabulary. The Council Tax for some areas will also include a parish council precept.
The bills for ‘average’ Band D properties (excluding parish council precepts) are set out below.
                                                2017/18        2018/19       Change
West Lancs Borough Council       £191.76          £197.49       2.99%
Lancs County Council                £1,221.74       £1,294.92     5.99%
Lancs Combined Fire Authority     £65.50            £67.46       2.99%
Lancs Police Authority                £165.45           £177.45      7.25%
Total                                      £1,644.45         £1,737.32     5.65%

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