COVID-19: Wiltshire Council warn impact could leave up to £51m budget shortfall

COVID-19: Wiltshire Council warn impact could leave up to £51m budget shortfall

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 1:20pm 12th May 2020. (Updated at 1:24pm 12th May 2020)

3 minute read

The local authority says despite setting a "balanced budget" the coronavirus crisis has taken a "significant" toll.

Even with the £28.8m Wiltshire Council received from the government bosses says it will still leave a budget shortfall of between £18.8m and £51.5m.

IMPACT ON BUDGET

The Council say there are a number of key areas where it's lost revenue or had to spend more money,including.

    • Lost income from suspension of car parking charges, closure of leisure centres and other commercial services
    • Lower income from business rates and council tax than forecast in the council's budget
    • Increase in residents claiming council tax support
    • Additional expenditure on social care, providing staff and care agencies with extra PPE
    • Preparations for potential excess deaths
    • Planned savings through transformation projects which can no longer be delivered
Wiltshire Council Parking Machine March 2020
No income from parking charges.

DIFFICULT DECISIONS AHEAD

The council says its worked with the Local Government Association, The County Councils Network, and South West Chief Executives to lobby central government, outlining its financial position in detail and made "strong representation for additional funding."

But it is also making plans for if the government does not allocate any further funding to local authorities

This includes potential cuts to service provision due to the current forecast budget position.

Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: 

"We are grateful for the government funding we have received but it is clear from these budget forecasts that additional support is required. Our priority is to support our residents and businesses through these challenging times and staff have done a tremendous job to deliver critical services with many carrying out roles outside of their normal day jobs.

"However, the size of the budget gap emerging means that we will need to make some really difficult decisions around our service provision at a time when the council will also need to lead the recovery process to get Wiltshire back on its feet when social distancing begins to relax. 

"At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government promised 'whatever it takes' and they must keep this promise and continue to provide much needed funding for local authorities across the country."  

CABINET TO MEET NEXT WEEK

Council bosses will meet on the 19th May to receive a formal update on the council's response to the pandemic.

The local authority has stressed behind the NHS the council has been, and continues to be, the second main responder to Covid-19.

The report also updates members on the " tremendous efforts of staff" to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Establishing the Wiltshire Wellbeing hub which is working to support over 20,000 of Wiltshire's most vulnerable residents
  • Designing and delivering a £100m grant process for 8500 eligible businesses
  • Managing the construction of two temporary mortuaries, including one at Salisbury District Hospital
  • Redeploying over 375 staff to business critical roles to support the COVID-19 response
Wiltshire Wellbing hub
Staff have been sorting and delivering food parcels to those in need.

The report also shows that 60 rough sleepers have been accommodated after the government urged local authorities to get everybody off the streets.

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