AN UPDATE on the financial position of Lancashire County Council has shown an underspend of £2.017m for the current financial year, against an overall revenue budget of £842.834m.
However members of the council's cabinet were told at a meeting on Thursday, November 5 that there remains uncertainty about the longer term financial impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and levels of Government funding.
The meeting heard that a one-year Spending Review for 2021/22, rather than a review covering a number of years, would now take place with the aim of prioritising the response to Covid-19 and focus on supporting jobs. The Spending Review is expected to conclude later this month (November).
The latest forecast for the council now indicates a financial deficit of £78.791m by 2023/24, a slight decrease from the £79.306m forecast in September.
However the council is also forecast to hold £151.241m of uncommitted transitional reserve at the end of this financial year.
This is sufficient to meet the forecast gap for financial years 2021/22 and 2022/23.
Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of the council, said: "We remain in a positive position thanks to the hard work of the council’s staff in managing budgets in these exceptionally trying times.
"The Spending Review due later this month will now concentrate on the next year, ensuring we can continue to respond to the demands of the current pandemic.
"Throughout this difficult time we have remained committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in Lancashire, particularly children and young people, the elderly and people with disabilities, and we will continue to do so in the future."
- Meanwhile, a plan to ensure adults who need social care have the support they need throughout the winter was approved by Lancashire County Council's cabinet on Thursday, November 5.
The Lancashire Adult Social Care winter plan sets out additional measures the authority is putting in place in the winter months to ensure people can live independently in their home and reduce the likelihood of them needing hospital care.
It also covers extra measures that are being put in place to ensure there is capacity to cope with the demands of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some measures outlined in the plan include:
• Providing extra crisis hours to ensure people get urgent support in their home to reduce the likelihood of them needing hospital support.
• Additional support from the overnight care teams to ensure home night visits are available for people who need them.
• Extra support for people who use the 115 rehabilitation and community beds in the county council's care homes. These help people regain the skills they need to live independently.
• Recruiting more social workers, occupational therapists and assessment staff to deal with winter and Covid-19 pressures.
The plan also outlines coronavirus specific measures including:
• Establishing a Covid Outbreak Support team to provide advice and assistance for care providers.
• Ensuring PPE is available for providers that don't qualify for support through national PPE schemes
• Plans to limit movement of staff between care homes to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus being spread to residents.
County Councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, said: "It's important we do all we can to ensure people have the support they need throughout winter.
"There are always extra pressures on our services, but even more so this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"This plan will ensure there is the support available to keep people safe and well in their own home. It will also help to ensure they are less likely to need to go to hospital and that we can minimise delays in people being discharged from hospital .
"The measures in this plan will mean we can help to improve people's physical and mental wellbeing. They will also help us protect Lancashire's health and social care system and reduce pressures on our NHS."
To find out more about the winter plan, see item 9 at https://council.lancashire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=10373