Suffolk County Council reports £23m shortfall in latest coronavirus numbers

Extra measures such as closing off roads to allow social distancing have cost Suffolk County Council

Extra measures such as closing off roads to allow social distancing have cost Suffolk County Council more during lockdown. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A £23million budget shortfall is being faced by Suffolk County Council as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, latest figures reveal.

Gordon Jones:
Suffolk County Council cabinet member for finance said estimates were continuing to c

Gordon Jones: Suffolk County Council cabinet member for finance said estimates were continuing to change as the pandemic progressed. Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SCC - Credit: Archant

The authority’s June return to the Government indicated that its current estimates were for an additional spend this year of £57.8m as a result of the virus, which includes both additional costs and lost income.

So far, the authority has received £34.7m in government support, meaning it is still staring down the barrel of a £23.1m shortfall.

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Additionally, current estimates for council tax or business rate reductions sit at around £12.5m, although figures continue to change as the pandemic continues.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for finances at the authority, said that it was “important to recognise that these figures continue to change month to month as we move through the response to Covid-19”.

He added: “The position regarding additional costs and lost income resulting from the Covid-19 are estimates.

“There remains significant uncertainty over the scale, nature and duration of these related financial pressures.

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“It is hoped that the course and impact of the pandemic becomes sufficiently clear in the weeks and months ahead for the council to develop meaningful financial scenarios upon which we can inform plans for the short term and longer term.”

Some authorities have had to announce emergency budgets or impending cutbacks, but Suffolk County Council said it was not looking to develop an emergency budget at this stage. However, it is “looking at ways of bridging any gap between funding and expenditure”.

SCC’s level of unallocated reserves currently sits at £49.6m, although £40.6m was there to cover potential risks prior to Covid-19.

It means that £9m in the reserves are there to help support the Covid response.

MORE: Ipswich Borough Council announces cutbacks following Covid-19 fallout

Authorities have been hit by the double-penalty of having to spend more on response measures as well as losing income from vital avenues such as fees and charges.

Among the biggest challenges are the demand for social care, impact on highways and infrastructure projects, pressures on the safe return of school pupils and wider economic issues affecting the county.

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