PEOPLE across the county could see their council tax bills rise significantly if budget proposals are approved.

Plans to add a minimum of £46 to annual council tax bills have been outlined in a report which is to be discussed at a Lancashire County Council cabinet meeting on Thursday.

It recommends a maximum council tax precept rise of 4.99 per cent, which includes 3 per cent to be used for adult social care.

The county council’s precept for a Band A home in the last financial period was £933.55 a year meaning a 4.99 per cent increase would add £46 onto your annual tax bill.

This is the amount LCC charge for council tax on a Band A property before individual borough councils (for East Lancashire Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and the Ribble Valley), and the police and fire service add their charges.

How much extra could I be charged by Lancashire County Council?

In a Band B property the contribution paid to LCC is £1,089.14, which could go up by £54.

For Band C the contribution is £1,244.73, which could rise by £62.

In a Band D property, the £1,400.32 contribution means an extra £70 could be added to your council tax bill.

In a Band E house, LCC’s council tax is £1,711.50, so £85 could be added.

For a band F property tax is £2,022.68 so £101.13 extra could be applied.

For Band G the contribution is £2,333.87, which could rise by £116.69.

In the highest, Band H, the contribution is £2,800.64, so an extra £140.03 could apply.

This amount is the flat-rate LCC take from council tax.

Further fees are then added for local borough councils and parish council costs, meaning the price of council tax paid in each area varies.

A further contribution to police and fire services is then also added on top of that.

For example in 2020/21 in the Ribble Valley, LCC took £933.55 of council tax on a Band A house, a further £103.79 went to the borough council, with a £140.97 contribution to the police and police and crime commissioner and £47.24 to the fire service.

The latter services could yet be subject to price hikes.

What does the agenda say?

The agenda reads: “As part of the provisional settlement, it was confirmed that the maximum increase that we will be able to apply to council tax, without referendum, will be 1.99 per cent.

“In addition, those authorities with responsibility for adult social care have the ability to raise council tax by an additional three per cent through an adult social care precept.

“It has also been confirmed that any of the three per cent allowed increase not taken in 2021/22 can be carried forward and applied in 2022/23.”

It continued: “Whilst a multi-year Spending Review was originally expected, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister decided to conduct a one-year Spending Review, setting department’s resource and capital budgets for 2021/22 only in order to prioritise the response to Covid-19 and focus on supporting jobs.

“This provided confirmation of funding announcements made by the Chancellor as part of the Spending Review 2020, however these are subject to consultation and could change as part of the final financial settlement. This included the ability to raise additional council tax through a social care precept and additional funding to support the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These changes have had a significant impact on the forecast gap in 2021/22, however it must be noted that many of these changes are non-recurrent and it is likely that there will be longer term pressures within the budget due to the impact of Covid-19 which are difficult to quantify at this stage in the pandemic.

‘Positive outlook’ for county’s finances

A statement released in recent days by LCC said there was a generally positive outlook for the authorities finances despite some uncertainty due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that a 'Money Matters' report is to be considered by the council's cabinet on Thursday and provides an update on the council's current financial position, as well as a medium term forecast for the next three years. 

It outlines that the council's finances remain in a strong position and, based on the current forecast, there are sufficient reserves to support the revenue budget gap through to and including 2023/24, the end of the council's current Medium Term Financial Strategy. 

County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the county council, said: "Careful management of the council's finances over recent years had put us in a much better position by the start of last year, particularly compared with 2017 when we faced a deficit of £200m and expected to already be relying heavily on reserves. 

"The pandemic which we've faced since shows just how important it is to be on a solid footing and have the financial resilience to be able to cope with the unexpected. 

"Whilst Covid-19 has thrown up many challenges, I'm glad to be able to report that we're still in a strong position and able to continue to invest in important council services for the benefit of people in Lancashire." 

But the council is aware that there are still financial challenges ahead. 

Based on the most-likely funding scenario, the county council's funding gap is expected to be around £54m by 2023/24, though this is a significant reduction of £25m from the previous forecast gap of £79m. 

While the council has had to divert resources to responding to the emergency pandemic, progress is now due to resume on identifying ways of meeting the future funding gap via additional savings and improved ways of working. 

County Councillor Driver added: "Like every other local authority we face continued pressures on our budget, and this is expected to continue, with the pandemic expected to add to ongoing demand in some areas such as children's social care. 

"As the report outlines, the pandemic also meant the government's multi-year spending review was delayed, and last year's funding settlement covered just one year. This and other demographic factors mean that, while we have based the forecast on the best available information, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the future. 

"The work to deliver savings has had to be delayed while we have focused on responding to the pandemic, but this will again become our focus as the county recovers in order that we can continue to maintain a strong financial footing and deliver our priority to protect the services our most vulnerable residents rely upon."