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Government to cover Powys Covid losses

Created on 29/07/2020 @ 07:48
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Fears that council tax payers may have to pick up the slack after Powys County Council lost an estimated £6 million in income due to Covid-19 have been eased.

The council’s revenues have been devastated by the virus, with car parks alone losing over £1m and Waste (trade, bulky and recyclable income) losing around £746,000 compared to last year. The closure of schools led to a £2.89 million loss of income from catering.

Licence, planning fees as well as rents, bus revenue and leisure centre payments have also been lost as Covid-19 took a grip, but the cabinet has been told that the Welsh Government has pledged to step in.

Head of finance, Jane Thomas, said: “We have had confirmation and have been asked to submit a definite claim now for four categories of income for the first quarter. Those include car parking, waste services, cultural services and school meals.

“We had put estimates as part of the discussions, and that support is confirmed.”

She added that further discussions with the Welsh Government would continue.

“We know there are further allocations waiting to come out and it’s seeing how that progresses now,” said Ms Thomas.

In May, it was estimated that Powys County Council would lose just over £10 million by the end of June. But cabinet were told the loss was £10.78 million.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, told fellow cabinet members that the council could face a £13 million deficit by the end of March 2021.

Cllr Davies said: “We received in early May a report that gave an initial assessment and it was clear the virus would have a huge financial impact on the council.

“There are many unknowns and it remains difficult to accurately reflect the impact on the budget as the situation continues to evolve.

“Even with further Welsh Government support the council is facing a significant deficit and corrective action must be considered to reduce the deficit.

“This will ensure that the budget for the current year is managed effectively, limiting the use of reserves, and importantly reducing the financial pressure on future years to ensure the sustainability of the council.”

He believed that because of the money the Welsh Government have had to spend dealing with Covid-19, they could have less to give the Welsh local authorities in the annual financial settlement before Christmas.

He added that the work to close funding gaps was now taking place.

The quarter one financial report said that the loss of income from fees and charges across the council was:

·      Car parking – £1.03 million

·      Waste (trade, bulky and recyclable income) – £746,000

·      Public transport –  £500,000

·      Catering (mainly school meals) – £2.89 million.

·      Regulatory Services – £305,000

·      Land charges and registration fees- £205,000

The report was noted and approved.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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