Councillor pledges not to cut services despite £4m coronavirus hit
PUBLISHED: 09:18 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:18 15 May 2020
Archant/Broadland District Council/Norfolk Conservatives
A Norfolk council has revealed the multi-million pound financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could force it to dip into reserves.
Broadland Council is forecasting a long-term financial hit to its books of between £2m and £4m.
And the authority has revealed it is considering making savings, instigating borrowing, or dipping into its reserves to compensate.
Trudi Mancini-Boyle, cabinet member for finance, said the council was not considering cuts to its services, and was well-placed to respond, with more than £22m worth of reserves in its coffers.
She said: “We will not cut services - they are more important to our residents than costs.
“We could do things in less expensive ways but that will not keep residents happy.”
However, in papers published ahead of a full council meeting - set to be held remotely next week - a report on the financial impact of the pandemic outlined the long-term “significant” impact of the additional pressure of the disease.
It stated: “An initial rough estimate indicates that if the lockdown lasts until the end of July the full financial impact on this council could be close to £2m.
“If the impacts last until the end of November, the impact could be closer to £4m.”
The document, written by Rodney Fincham, the assistant director of finance, added: “Given the scale of these numbers, it might be prudent to review the council’s budgets in a few weeks’ time to ascertain whether to look for compensating savings, or to draw additional sums from reserves, or a combination of both. The council currently has general reserves of over £14m and earmarked reserves of £8m, so is able to fund short-term pressure.”
Broadland will also review its capital spending and delay or bring forward as appropriate, “to help stimulate the economy”.
The finance cabinet member said: “It is obviously hugely significant. We’ve just put out the budget and the capital programme and it will have an impact on that.
“We will have more accurate figures from June, including any impact on reserves. We want to try and build homes and generate new jobs and businesses.”
She added: “We’ve always been a careful council. If we had to dip into our reserves, we would be able to cope, but we will continue to lobby central government to get as much back as we possibly can.
“It’s now the extra costs of getting towns up and running and the local economy vibrant again.”
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