£52m county cash windfall

Lancashire County Council's deputy leader, County Coun David Borrow
Lancashire County Council's deputy leader, County Coun David Borrow

A large chunk of a recent £52m Lancashire County Council windfall will be held as “risk reserves” in the wake of severe budget cuts.

A £5m “green fund” will also be set up under proposals expected to be agreed at the council’s budget meeting today, Thursday February 12.

The £52m was generated from investing in the financial markets.

The authority said it took government advice after the Icelandic banking crash in 2009, by hiring experts to manage its money.

The windfall comes as the council is set to agree £176m in budget savings over three years following extensive central government cuts.

Deputy leader David Borrow said: “It is a very welcome windfall, but we have to treat it as if it’s a one-off.

“We are reluctant to go splashing it about. We have to be very careful what we use it for because of the uncertainties that exist in many areas.”

Around £1.5m will be used to provide “the ultimate safety net” for impoverished people in the county after the authority lost a third of its care and urgent needs funding in 2013.

The money will be held in reserve for poverty and community issues.

Coun Borrow added: “The council has put together a climate change working group, which is looking to use the £3m fund in terms of research into green energy, investment into Lancashire businesses, and green energy savings for the county council.”

He said this would provide long term savings.

Coun Borrow said around £15.5m will be put aside for adult and social care funding, while around £20-30m would go into a “general risk reserve”. He added that the biggest challenges with government cuts would be around children’s services and adult social care, but said he hoped that changing the way services were run with greater emphasis on early intervention would mean savings could be met safely.