Pandemic creates £11.7m gap in council’s budget
Telford & Wrekin Council’s budget faces a £11.7 million gap due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The gap has been created by a combination of extra new costs for the council and significantly reduced income for a number of services such as its leisure centres and theatre.
A report to the Council’s cabinet shows that overall the pandemic has created new cost pressures of almost £27 million. These range from almost £6.4m for Adult Social Care including additional costs to support care providers and shot-term care, to a major drop in income for its leisure centres of £3.4m, which are now open again but at reduced capacity.
Equally its outdoor education facility Arthog (£900k) Oakengates Theatre (£500k) remain severely hit by pandemic restrictions.
The report highlights other pressures including the extra costs of additional personal protective equipment, homelessness prevention, and many other areas where the Council has been forced to step in to meet unexpected extra costs and where income has reduced.
It says these figures provide an updated and clearer picture of the pandemic’s impact on Council finances.
To date the Council has received £15.2 million from the Government’s COVID emergency response fund, insufficient to cover the extra pressures it faces, creating the £11.7 million gap in its budget.
Cllr Rae Evans, cabinet lead for finance, said: “We now have a much better idea of the impact of the pandemic on our budget this year and whilst we welcome the additional emergency funding provided by the Government, this falls way short of covering the pressures that we are facing and we need more help to plug this gap.
“Our mission is to protect, care and invest in our borough and our residents and the Council has worked very hard to do so during this exceptionally challenging time, for example by extending our offer of support to those eligible on free schools meals.
“We’re having to meet significant extra care costs for both vulnerable adults and children, while providing extra support to social care providers in recognition of the crucial role they play.
“We’ve provided extra support for our local businesses to help revive high streets, funding to help the homeless, foodbanks, mental health and domestic violence partner services to tackle issues created by the pandemic.
“In March the Government said it would support councils to do whatever was necessary to tackle the pandemic. We’re doing our bit, now we’re ask the Government again to stay true to that promise and plug this budget gap the virus has created.”