Babergh District Council reports healthier finances in latest Covid-19 impact report
- Credit: ARCHANT
Finances at a Suffolk council disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic do not appear as bleak as they did earlier this year, according to latest data - but bosses are still cautiously monitoring the numbers going forward.
Babergh District Council's latest numbers presented to cabinet on Thursday indicated additional costs from the pandemic at just under £1million, while lost income accounted for nearly £1.2m - leading to a total forecast impact of just over £2.3m by the end of the financial year.
However, government bailouts total £1.8m, meaning the council has £510,000 to account for.
But current forecasts are for a £728,000 budget surplus come April thanks to savings from unfilled vacant posts, existing savings programmes and other funding sources.
It represents an improvement on the position from a few months ago, when it was anticipating having to severely deplete its £5m reserves pot - but finance chiefs say they will continue to monitor the picture, which is likely to keep evolving through the coming months.
Conservative council leader John Ward said: "The government has provided us with a lot of support and as a result of this together with our usual careful management we have been able to protect the council finances from what could have been a devastating situation.
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"However, there remains a significant risk that this could change as the year progresses.
"There is still so much uncertainty about the further impact of Covid, although the progress of vaccine development and rollout gives us all hope for optimism."
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The government confirmed it would cover 75% of irrecoverable sales fees, charges and losses where those are more than 5% of lost income, which has marked a key boost for Babergh.
David Busby, Liberal Democrat councillor and cabinet member for assets and investments, said: "The facts will change over the next few months, but it is looking good - a lot better than it was - and I am pleased to see that."
It follows a similar report to Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet earlier in the week in which it too was forecasting a surplus, around £848,000.