Could coronavirus bankrupt our council? Bucks chiefs say it is hard to predict the scale of the crisis, but that frontline services will be protected as a priority

It is hard to predict the scale of The Buckinghamshire Council's financial shortfall post coronavirus - according to leaders.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 9:52 am
County Hall in Aylesbury

Since the pandemic hit the council has received £25,590,00 in emergency grant funding, which it has used to sure up key services and handed out in the form of grants to help local businesses and organisations.

But council bosses say that a shortfall is predicted, and that its scale cannot yet be known because we are still dealing with the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

In the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis district councils in Buckinghamshire merged with Buckinghamshire County Council to create a unitary authority.

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As reported last week this process cost the taxpayer £10million last year, but unitary status is predicted to save money longer term.

Responding to a series of questions put to every council in the country by the BBC Shared Data Unit, The Buckinghamshire Council said that it does not envisage meeting the criteria to file a Section 114 Notice.

Section 114 notices are filed when councils are in a severe financial predicament, and prevent any spending except on services which protect the vulnerable and statutory services such a bin collections.

A spokesperson for The Buckinghamshire Council, said that coronavirus will mean that the authority's planned budget would be overshot, but that this is being monitored closely.

They said: It is difficult to know the full extent of the additional costs we will incur as a result of the coronavirus pandemic at this time - with the uncertainty of how long recovery will take.

"As a council we continue to monitor the additional expenditure that we have incurred in responding to the current pandemic. We are also aware of significant lost revenue from facilities such as car parks and leisure centres.

"We anticipate that costs will exceed our planned budget and the extra Government funding that has currently been allocated. However, we will continue to lobby Government for full recovery of costs and lost income.

"Depending on what our additional costs, loss of income and government funding looks like, we may have to look to make costs savings but cuts to front line services are the very last thing we would consider at this difficult time for the council, residents and local businesses."