Responding to COVID-19 is expected to cost Argyll and Bute Council more than £12 million.
A report going to the Business Continuity Committee (BCC) on Thursday 13th August shows that costs are a mixture primarily of increased expenditure and loss of income:
The council has delivered new or expanded services for example to provide child care for essential workers, additional homeless accommodation and free school meals, and support in getting food to people in need.
Steps to recover from the impact of COVID-19, such as work to make council buildings safe for use, have brought additional costs.
Income to help deliver services has fallen, for example through reduced use of transport services (ferries, piers, harbours and parking), and reduced planning fee income.
The council has received some funding support from the Scottish Government for its COVID-19 response. However this currently leaves the council with an estimated shortfall of £5.9 million that it needs to address.
The BCC will also consider reports setting out the council’s budget outlook for 2021/22: estimates show that the council will have to deliver £6.7 million of savings, even before costs of COVID-19 are considered.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Policy Lead for Strategic Finance said:
“Responding to COVID-19 has greatly increased local people’s and businesses’ need for council support.
Changing how we work, to make sure we’ve been there for people who need us, has had a significant impact on already stretched council resources.
We’ve set up a local helpline, worked with partners and volunteers to get food where it’s needed, moved staff from different services into our benefits section to help businesses get grant support quickly… I could go on.
Argyll and Bute’s need for the council’s services, in moving on from the impact of COVID-19, will be long term. We have work to do, with partners, to build the local economy and increase job opportunities; if there is a second wave of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions return, we will be there again to help those in need; and there’s work to do help us all live and work safely with the presence of COVID-19, in schools to businesses and our outdoors.
We will do all we can to protect council services. We will continue to work with COSLA on securing national government support for local government services.
In some ways, councils have never been needed more than they are now.”