Council puts money away for 'a rainy day'

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn
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Town hall finances in Blackpool are in ‘very good health’ compared to many other local authorities, according to council leader Coun Simon Blackburn.

Town hall finances in Blackpool are in ‘very good health’ compared to many other local authorities, according to council leader Coun Simon Blackburn.

He was speaking as it was revealed Blackpool Council has added £2m to its rainy day fund, which now stands at £6m.

Coun Blackburn praised the council’s financial officers for successfully managing the budget in the face of government cuts.

He said one large council had already failed financially and he feared if government cuts continued others were ‘sure to follow’.

Coun Blackburn told a full meeting of the council: “Torbay Council, which became a unitary authority at the same time as Blackpool, has a population level very similar to Blackpool but has not faced anything like the scale of cuts Blackpool has faced.

“The elected mayor of Torbay has been to their full council meeting and said there is no money left after the end of this year and they want to become a district council again and become part of Devon County Council.

“So when we take for granted every year the fact our officers are able to come up with a budget which makes the level of cuts we have had to make, more than 50 per cent since 2010 under both administrations, we need to bear in mind what an achievement that is. We are seeing other councils fall by the wayside but we are comparatively in very good financial health.”

The £2m which has been added to working balances to bring the total up to the target level of £6m has been taken from funds set aside to support the council’s business loans fund, but which are no longer needed for that purpose. Working balances are required to ensure the council can meet any unexpected blips in its cash flow during the year.

In his report, Coun Blackburn also said at the end of the last financial year, council tax collection was 91.3 per cent compared to 90 per cent at the end of 2016/ 2017. The total amount collected has risen by £2.9m.

Business rates collection also showed an improvement compared to 2016/ 2017, standing at 95.6 per cent at the end of March compared to 93.9 per cent the previous year – an increase of £1.2m.