The coronavirus crisis cost to Bolton Council is nearly £40m

The coronavirus crisis cost to Bolton Council is nearly £40m

THE coronavirus crisis has cost Bolton Council nearly £40m so far, according to the latest estimates by town hall bosses.

The local authority is expecting to incur £13m in additional costs due to the pandemic this year alone and is projecting a loss of income of around £26.4m.

This includes business rates and council tax receipts falling by around £13m, and other sources of revenue, including parking charges, falling by £2.5m.

As minor shareholders in Manchester Airport the council was also expecting to benefit from an annual dividend of around £6m which will now not be paid.

This takes the total estimated cost of the coronavirus crisis to the council in this financial year up to around £39.4m, rising from June’s estimate of £33m.

But council leader David Greenhalgh said the local authority is not expecting to run out of money and will be able to finance its planned expenditure.

He said: “We completely acknowledge that this is a really challenging and ever-changing situation. But we do not believe that we will need to issue a Section 114 notice for this financial year.

“However, we need to be clear that as the ongoing implications of this situation are more fully understood, the financial position of the council next year is likely to be extremely challenging.”

Speaking to all councillors at a meeting on Wednesday evening, the leader also confirmed that the council will have to use some of its reserves to balance its budget – but this was planned before the pandemic.

He highlighted the help received by the government, including £17.1m of emergency funding, £8m of specific grants to support care homes, vulnerable residents and those in financial hardship, and £58m for businesses in Bolton.

Cllr Greenhalgh also welcomed news that the government has committed to covering 75 per cent of losses above the first five per cent of budgeted income and announced further funding for councils totalling £500m.

He said: “I have to be honest, I think sometimes Westminster forgets how much we have had to adapt as councils and how much we have had to build on revenue streams, and I’m grateful that they have listened after considerable lobbying by the Local Government Association, from all parties.

“This is hugely welcome news and it will make considerable difference to our financial position moving forward.”

But Labour’s deputy leader Akhtar Zaman said the government has so far “failed” in its promise to ensure that local councils are not “left out of pocket” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “The people of Bolton and all members of the council have a stake in the future finances of our council and need to be told the stark truth about the real possibility of service cuts and job losses.”

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