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3.5 per cent council tax rise in Lincolnshire backed by county councillors

Council leaders in Lincolnshire are confident that the funding pressures that have blighted it over recent years could ease off after promised fairer funding reviews take place this year.

Councillors at Lincolnshire County Council backed a 3.5 per cent council tax rise today (February 21).

The rise consists of a 1.5 per cent general rise and 2 per cent for adult social care.

Lincolnshire County Council
Lincolnshire County Council

It means an average Band D property would see a council tax bill of £1,337.58, a £45 rise on last year.

Council leader Martin Hill told councillors: “2020 is the start of a significant new era in our history. We need to seize the opportunities presented to us now as strongly as possible and deliver what years of uncertainty have slowed.

“Our budget is one that reflects our continued investment in our county and our services.”

A revised budget position puts the council at a £1.165m surplus heading into the next financial year.

As part of its proposals, the council would make a £1.447m contribution to a new development reserve which would be used to fund future projects.

It would also receive a social care support grant of £14.7m from government in order to ease pressure on the service.

Delays in creating a new funding formula for local authorities, blamed on the stalemate caused by Brexit, mean the future is unclear when it comes to how much cash the council will have next year.

The revenue support grant is not expected to be received from next year, with a one-year settlement being given to cope with changes to local government funding beginning from April 2021.

However, Coun Hill is confident the distribution of wealth will improve from next year:

“We’re looking for some certainty this year about these things will roll out. So hopefully this time next year they’ll be a three or four year settlement so we can actually plan better for the future with some certainty," he said

“We did have some commitments from government that they will address that issue so I’m confident and hopeful that will be seen through and the initial indications are that we will get extra funding, which is what we’ve always been after.”

The county council has seen a £50 million reduction in its revenue support grant, its main source of funding from government, over the past four years.

In the new budget the authority makes around £14m of efficiency savings in an attempt to balance the budget.

Among the spends this year the council has earmaeked £4m for extra highways gangs, £2m for extra drainage repairs and flood response equipment and £350,000 towards a new “green masterplan”.

A Labour amendment, which called for more spending on social mobility, park and rides and bus services was rejected during the meeting.

Labour leader Coun Rob Parker said some of the money which was “squirreled away” in reserves could have been used to pay for the costs.

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