Councillors in Lincolnshire have agreed updated budget proposals that protect frontline services despite significant financial challenges.
Final budget proposals for 2023/24 were agreed by the council’s executive at their meeting on Tuesday 7 February.
The updated proposals include an additional £7m for highways maintenance, which was identified as a priority area by residents in a recent survey. That means the highways budget for 2023/24 has now risen to around £93m.
To help fund this, it is proposed that council tax should rise by 4.99% in total (this includes a 2% rise for adult care). Despite this, and additional government funding, the council will still need to use £9.5m from its reserves to balance the books, based on current projections.
Cllr Martin Hill OBE, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is a good budget for the people of Lincolnshire, protecting the frontline services residents rely on while living within our means.
“Like households across the country, the council is facing steeply rising costs because of inflation, particularly for school transport, and we also continue to see increasing demand for services, most notably adult care and children’s services.
“We continue to find smarter ways of working, which we estimate will save more than £23m over the next few years. In addition, the government has recognised the pressures faced by local councils, and is providing some extra funding, including around £19m for social care.
“Despite this additional money, we will need to draw on our reserves again this year. We’re able to do that because of our track record of strong financial management. We’ve not been afraid to take difficult decisions in the past, which means we are in a better position than some other councils to meet these latest challenges.
“As a result, we’re able to invest an extra £7m in highways maintenance and improvements this year. We know good roads are important to both residents and businesses, and this additional funding will help make up for the significant cuts in government funding for road repairs over the last few years.
“However, officers have recommended that we increase council tax by 5% to ensure the authority’s long-term financial stability.
“We’ll continue to push government for long-term solutions to the major issues facing local councils. It’s vital that we start to see progress on fairer funding, the resetting of business rates and plans for making adult care more sustainable. We will also continue to work towards a devolution deal for Greater Lincolnshire, giving local authorities more control over funding.”