Posted: 13.10.20 at 11:53 by David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter
North Warwickshire Borough Council is at breaking point as it counts the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That was the message from Cllr Simon Rose (Lab, Polesworth West), during a meeting of this week’s community and environment board meeting, who called on the Government to look again at how it assists councils financially.
Councillors were told that the latest figures showed a loss of around £583,000 from leisure services from April through to the end of September.
Cllr Rose said “This is an example of why the government funding formula for local authorities needs to be reviewed.
“At the start of the pandemic the Prime Minister made it clear that local councils needed to spend what they needed to spend to keep people safe and ensure we reduced the threat of Covid as much as we could.
“We can see that there is a shortfall of £455,230 between the additional expenditure and the Covid-19 grants. Covid is going to go on for a long time and small councils like North Warwickshire Borough Council, if things carry on as they are, will struggle to survive. It’s at breaking point now.”
A report prepared for the meeting explained that the reduction in income was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw the closure of all centres from March until July.
It added “Whilst procedures have started to return to a new ‘normal’ is going to be affected for 2020/21. Increased safety measures have led to a reduction in numbers able to attend leisure centres and the cancellation of some activities such as birthday parties.”
The report went on to highlight other areas of overspend in relation to budget, the largest being in refuse and recycling where a figure of £492,613 was attributed largely to a shortfall of £384,068 in green waste collection income because charging for the service did not go ahead as planned in April. There were also extra costs of £52,728 to dispose of extra recycling collected during the period from April to September.
Councillors were told at this week’s meeting that there will be two further opportunities during the current financial year to put claims into the government to add to the £727,900 already received.