Revealed – Coronavirus hit on council finances and what it means for taxpayers
- Credit: James Ager
Councils across Suffolk have issued a plea to the Government for more cash to tackle the coronavirus crisis, as the public purse has taken a multi-million pound hit in Suffolk in just one month.
One council predicted that additional expenses and income losses would be three times higher than the initial government injection of support, while another said its meagre financial package covered just a day and a half of the losses it faced this month.
MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for all the latest updatesThe coronavirus crisis has battered authorities as they face the double whammy of extra costs for relief efforts coupled with a big dip in income.
Discounts have already been issued to homes financially struggling to pay council tax and council house rents, but council tax increasingly makes up a smaller and smaller part of how public services are financed.
Councils now use investments in commercial property, as well as income from leisure centres, theatres and car parks to bring money in, and help limit the amount in council tax rises needed to pay for vital services.
Lockdown has effectively slashed that income entirely.
Those vital services funded include waste collection and recycling, foster care services, highway maintenance, grass and hedge cutting, street lighting, adult care provision, fire services, Trading Standards, planning permissions and environmental health to name a few.
Councils across England were invited to submit a Delta return to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) last week – a form which summarises the financial hit they have taken.
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Outlined below is the investigation carried out by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in Suffolk.
MORE: Support for businesses during coronavirusIpswich Borough Council
Councils were asked to outline how much extra spend they have generated in April 2020 (up to Wednesday last week), how much income has been lost, and, if possible, to specify how much of that lost income was from council tax and business rates from the discount schemes.