With a predicted shortfall of £50 million pounds in council funding – due to the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak – our local authority is asking the government to make good on its promise to protect local councils and services during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a letter outlining the financial impact of Covid-19 on council services and updating residents about the way Bath & North East Somerset Council is supporting communities – during these unprecedented times – is being sent to all households.
Residents in Bath and North East Somerset will receive the letter from council leader Dine Romero and chief executive Will Godfrey this week. It sets out the council’s key priorities to protect the most vulnerable, support businesses and maintain local services.
However, it also highlights the financial impact of coronavirus on the council, with significant extra expenditure in areas including adult social care, waste collection and community support as well as big losses in income due to the closure of attractions such as the Roman Baths.
The extra expense and income loss added together is currently predicted to lead to a £50m shortfall in funding for council services this year. The overall net budget for the council to deliver all council services is £120 million.
According to MHCLG (Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government) figures, when compared to neighbouring local authorities, Bath & North East Somerset Council has the highest proportion of its budget funded through income streams such as heritage services. Income from parking has also reduced significantly in recent weeks.
The letter, which is being sent to all households in the area, also sets out the support available from the council through the Compassionate Communities Hub as well as help available for business.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “We’ve been keeping people in touch through e-newsletters, social media and local radio, but we recognise not everyone is online which is why we are sending these letters to people directly. We want to make sure as many residents as possible have the information they need including about our telephone helpline.
“I want to reassure all residents that we continue to run essential public services but we have faced unprecedented pressures over the last few weeks and are extremely concerned that central government funding will be nowhere near enough to cover this. We are talking to government about this and at the same time, we are working on a recovery plan to help Bath and North East Somerset get back into business.
“Our finances are well-managed but we are facing a double whammy of increased costs and reductions in income as coronavirus has hit. We have received some funding already from central government to deal with immediate pressures and more has been promised. But we urgently need clarification as to how they plan to make good on their commitment to protect local councils and local services during this period.
The letter is available here http://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2020-04/coronavirus-residents-letter-27-april-2020.pdf
For updates visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/coronavirus