Lancashire County Council has announced it is to cut council tax by 2%, while agreeing a new programme of investments including funding for 48 new Police and Community Support Officers.
The plans, which include creating a new £5m centre of excellence to care for people with dementia and a £3.3m programme to retrain people who have lost their jobs, form part of the 2013-14 budget agreed at a meeting of the full council at County Hall in Preston.
The budget also accounts for the final year of a three-year savings programme, over the course of which the council will have spent £215m less on management and administration.
Council Leader Geoff Driver explained: "It has been a tough period for local government and there are even more difficult times ahead, but people across Lancashire are having a difficult time financially too and we want to do what we can to help.
"The county council has managed its finances very well despite huge reductions in funding and that has put us in a strong enough position to cut council tax while announcing new investments and continuing to make savings.
"The overall effect of our position on council tax over the last 4 years, if you compare it to what would have happened had we increased tax within the government's ceiling limits each year, will be to put £100m back in people's pockets to spend in the local economy."
The £15m investment programme comes in addition to £50m of new investment announced by the county council in its last budget. The new spending will include:
•£5m on a new-build centre of excellence for dementia care, for people throughout the county in need of specialist care, and a further £250,000 programme to train county council employees in proving care for people with dementia
•£3.7m to fund 48 new Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs), four of whom will be allocated to each of Lancashire's 12 districts
•£3.3m for a training and support programme to help people who have been made redundant get back into work
•£1m to create four 'changing places' toilets for people with disabilities in major centres across Lancashire
•£1m for young people's services, including a new fleet of mobile youth centres.
CC Driver added: "People across the county tell us they are concerned about low level crime, such as anti-social behaviour, and the investment in PCSOs reflects our wish to see that tackled and help people to feel safe.
"We're investing in dementia services because it is vital people who are unfortunate enough to suffer dementia, and their families, get the care and support they deserve in what can be an extremely distressing situation.
"The full range of investments shows that even under significant financial pressure the county council can and will make a tremendous difference to many people's lives."
Meanwhile the budget includes the ongoing savings programme agreed by the county council in February 2011 to account for the substantial reduction in funding from central government.
The council has taken a range of measures to reduce its spending, focusing on 'back office' support services to minimise the impact of savings on the frontline, and these will continue in line with the three-year strategy.
Note to editors:
The £50m investment announced in the 2012/13 budget was for:
• A new £10m apprenticeships programme to help young people into work, supporting employers to take on apprentices and creating further professional apprenticeships within the county council.
• An investment of £5m over five years to support the costs of young people travelling to education, employment and training.
• £10m investment in a new programme of measures to promote economic development, encouraging businesses to grow and create jobs in Lancashire.
• £6m for the extension of the Youth Zone programme to provide young people with more activities and opportunities to access information and guidance.
• £3m towards a new programme that employs armed forces veterans in mentoring young people in Lancashire secondary schools.
• £1m for refurbishing local libraries.
The remaining £15m is supporting four existing projects to improve the county's transport infrastructure including the Pennine Reach public transport initiative, Rawtenstall Bus Station, the Blackpool to Fleetwood Tramway and a scheme to alleviate traffic congestion in Broughton.
Changing Places toilets
Changing Places toilets are designed specifically for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as other serious impairments such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or an acquired brain injury, that mean they need extra facilities to allow them to use the toilets comfortably.