Bedford Borough Council HQ Image:Bedford Borough Council

The 2020/21 budget will be discussed at Executive Meeting next week

Bedford Borough Council Executive will be discussing the financial impact of coronavirus next week. A new report forecasts an expected financial gap of £32.6 million over the next two years.

The Council said that the impact of coronavirus has affected services across the Borough. Adding that it is under unprecedented pressure to deliver care for the vulnerable, elderly and shielded, including through the Community Hub, while keeping vital day-to-day operations running in challenging circumstances.

The Budget for 2020/21 will be discussed at a meeting of the Executive on Wednesday (24 June 2020), setting out the financial impact of these vital support services and lost income to the Council.

The report forecasts extra costs and lost income of £13.7m in this year’s Budget. This is on top of £1.3m extra spent in 2019/20 at the start of the outbreak.

The Council said that to date, the Government has given it £8.9m in grant funding to cover the financial impact of coronavirus. The remaining £4.8m gap this year is to be addressed by reprioritising spending and reserves that will be moved away from their original purposes.

Council is “expecting difficult decisions ahead”

Looking ahead to 2021/22, the Council is currently forecasting a gap of £27.8million. This summer, work will begin to build on previous efficiency plans to find ways of managing this gap. These proposals will come out for consultation later this year.

There remains a number of uncertainties that depend upon the impact of coronavirus over coming months and the economic fallout. So the funding gap will be kept under review during the year. Cllr Michael Headley, portfolio holder for Finance said:

“Over the last 10 years, throughout the period of austerity, the Council has been finding ways to become more efficient and make savings. However, the financial impact of coronavirus goes way beyond what we have previously had to look at.

“We are expecting difficult decisions ahead and with so much still unknown about the course that the coronavirus pandemic will take and the final impact it will have on the economy, we will be keeping a very close eye on the unfolding funding shortfall and doing our best to minimise the impact on local services.”

The papers for the meeting and can be found on the Council’s website.