Lincolnshire

Council puts £18.5m in reserves over health funding worries

Lincolnshire County Council has put aside more than £18.6 million to address concerns over future funding of health services in the county, despite the government’s recent promise for an extra £20 billion a year by 2023 for the NHS.

Councillors on the authority’s executive committee agreed on Tuesday for £18,665,000 be put into the council’s volatility reserve which currently totals £32,340,000.

Council leader Martin Hill said: “We know extra money has been allocated to the NHS and there is a concern nationally that other services are wondering whether there will be limited extra money for them.

“There was some noise from defence last week, but local government is in the exact same position, so looking forward we need to be sure that we can carry on for some years to come.”

He said there would be a ‘financial risk’ over the next few years, but explained local authorities were hoping the government might resolve the problem either by changing the way adult care is funded, or by continuing to respond positively to the ‘fairer funding’ campaign through which the county hopes to get a fair slice of the funding cake.

Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill

Martin Hill added: “Nothing is safe until it’s in the bag. There are two areas where there is hope, but with all this money going to the NHS, which we all recognise, it does mean there is a concern from the rest of the public services about where their own funding is going to come from, and extra funding is going to come from.”

The council hopes to get an extra £160 million a year if its ‘fairer funding’ campaign is successful.

However, it faces continued cuts in central government funding, with the £210 million grant it received in 2010 decreasing to just £20 million by 2020.

Councillors also agreed to allow departments which underspent in the last financial year to keep 1% of that money.

This created new reserves for highways, employee leave and schools capital projects totalling £1,188,000 and will carry forward £3,880,000 for bids including meeting insurance liabilities, supporting the council’s heritage services and work on its corporate support contract, and to address the adverse weather overspend from the harsh conditions in the past year.