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Council to freeze council tax and protect frontline services

14 February 2011 Comments

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The authority has confirmed that there will be no increase in its share of the council tax when bills are sent out in March but has also taken steps to protect services which have an impact on public safety.

The budget was approved at a meeting of full council today (Friday).

Despite a huge reduction in the grant given to the council by central government, the council will protect front line services whilst taking tough decisions to reduce or stop other services which, while desirable, are not essential.

Among the services which will be wholly or largely protected will be 150 police community support officers. The council will provide a total of £1.5M to Lincolnshire Police Authority to pay for these offices in the next year, helping to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

The safeguarding of children, fire and rescue, winter road gritting and emergency planning have all fared well as the council chose to protect these services on the grounds of public safety.

However, some other services will be reduced or stopped altogether as the impact of the national deficit is felt locally.

With Lincolnshire losing 28 per cent of grant funding in the next four years, the council had to re-structure how its services are delivered to cope with a shortfall of £125m.

County council Portfolio Holder for Finance Cllr Kelly Smith said: “This is the toughest financial settlement for years. The national finances need to be repaired and that equates to less money for councils throughout the country.

He added: “The council also faces increasing costs, particularly for caring for the growing numbers of elderly people in the county. Energy prices are also rising and the council is taking on new responsibilities for flood management and concessionary bus fares.”

Cllr Smith said:

“Whilst we are committed to frontline services some additional charges are being introduced in some areas. This includes adult social care where new charges are being introduced. However, these charges will reflect people’s ability to pay.

“Post-16 transport charges will also increase – although we will continue to fund this at a greater level than most councils. Non-essential services such as Trading Standards, rights of way and teenage services will be scaled back.

“This budget and the council re-structure has set the direction for the council for the foreseeable future. We are committed to providing essential, value for money, front line services and to keeping council tax bills as low as possible whilst doing this.”

The freeze in the county council’s share of the council tax has been made possible by a Government grant to authorities which agree to keep rises to 2.5 per cent or below.

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