Revealed: £108m cost of Covid crisis in Norfolk

There has been a sharp rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases recorded in Norfolk. Picture: D

There has been a sharp rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases recorded in Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has already cost Norfolk County Council more than £108m, a report has revealed. 

And though the council has received £96m in Covid-19 grant funding from the government, a mixture of the rising costs from services under extra pressure and falling income has so far left the authority with a £11.8m shortfall.

Care homes are working hard to protect residents from Covid but it has taken a toll on staff. Pictur

Costs of providing adult social care have increased during the Covid pandemic.  - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A finance monitoring report due to be discussed by the council’s cabinet committee on December 7 warns the council is “anticipating financial pressures not forecast at the time of budget setting, primarily relating to the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The council said it is now preparing for the "triple whammy" impacts of budget pressure, funding uncertainty and financial Covid challenges.

Extra £22.7m costs have come from additional staff and property costs relating to the Covid-19 response, as well as sourcing PPE, medical supplies and cleaning materials for use across council services.

The Time and Tide Museum sign.Picture: James Bass

Closure of museums, including Time and Tide in Great Yarmouth, has seen a fall in income.  - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

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Lost income from closed museums and libraries, sports and recreation facilities and adult education, and falls in demand for public transport, parking, planning and records office services, has cost an extra £18m.

There has also been extra costs from dealing with a 15pc rise in the amount of rubbish being collected as people spend more time at home. 

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The costs come despite the report warning of potential falls in business rates and council tax income that could impact next year’s budget.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council Labour group leader Steve Morphew. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Norfolk County Council's Labour group leader Steve Morphew said: “There was a big hole in council finances before Covid. 

“Things are worse now with no sign extra government funds will be anything like enough. That means Norfolk will pay through a mix of service cuts and council tax hikes. 

“Meanwhile it's hard to comprehend how the administration can prioritise things like more car parking at county hall over keeping Holt Hall for our children’s future and increasing councillor allowances when the care sector is so fragile.”

County Hall in Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

County Hall in Norwich where Norfolk County Council officials are facing a £11.8m Covid financial deficit.  - Credit: Archant

The biggest extra Covid cost has been £56.9m for adult social services with more people being supported and increasing prices for new care packages.

The report states this is “predominantly due to the hospital discharge arrangements during the pandemic, which required self funders and people who would normally have received continuing health care to be supported through council held contracts".

Children’s services have cost an additional £9.2m, caused by everything from maintaining early years provision to Zoom licences, additional frontline agency costs and falling income from schools for its services. 

School pupils aged 11 and over will still have to wear a face covering on public transport. Picture:

Children services and public transport have also seen increased costs during Covid.  - Credit: PA

There remains “considerable uncertainty as to how school budgets have been affected by Covid-19”, the report warns. 

This could lead to further costs from increased pupil exclusions, higher referral rates for special educational needs plans and more requests for support into mainstream or special schools, it states.

Norfolk emerging from lockdown into tier two restrictions on December 2 will see the county expected to receive additional government Covid funding of £2 per head per month, about £1.8m extra per month. 

Subject to a government review in January, this additional funding is likely to be available until the end of March.

Postwick park and ride coronavirus test centre. Picture: Mike Page

Postwick park and ride coronavirus test centre.  - Credit: Mike Page

It comes on top of £5.6m for Norfolk announced in October from government local authority funding allocations totalling £919m to respond to Covid-19 related spending pressures.

Norfolk was also allocated £2.7m when the government announced a £170m package of extra
targeted financial support for those in need over the winter period, to help with the cost of food, energy and water bills and other associated costs.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Andrew Jamieson, the council's cabinet member for finance, said: “Due to this period of almost unprecedented risk and uncertainty, the council must now plan for the ‘triple whammy’ impacts of rising budget pressures, uncertainty over government funding, and the financial challenges associated with Covid-19.

“While I welcome the government funding we have received for Covid costs, it is still £11.8m short of the £97m  we’ve had to spend.”

The Millennium Library in Norwich. Forum.Photo: Bill Smith

The Millennium Library in Norwich is among those that have seen falls in income following Covid closures.  - Credit: Archant © 2011

In figures - Selected forecast Norfolk Covid costs
£22m - Infection control funding
£17m - Extra adult care costs
£6m - Procurement of PPE
£3.7m - Test and trace service support grant
£2.7m - Covid Winter Grant Scheme funding
£2.5m - Loss of children’s services income
£2.4m - Loss of museums and libraries income
£1.5m - Redeployed staff, property costs
£1.5m - Loss of income from registrars
£1.5m - Extension of Norfolk Assistance Scheme
£1.3m - Loss of parking income (including blue badges) 
£1.2m - School and college transport funding
£1m - Equipment for home working
£1m - Loss of public transport income
£700k - Food boxes for older people
£500k - Additional foster/care placement costs 
£300k - Additional day care support
£300k - Loss of adult education and records office income
£300k - Extra costs at recycling centres
£200k - Collecting more waste
£150k - Support for people experiencing domestic abuse

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