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Projected COVID cost reduced

Published Wednesday 23 September, 2020
Last updated on Wednesday 23 September, 2020

Councillors will review the projected financial impact of COVID at this week’s cabinet meeting as figures show the projected costs have reduced from the expected £4.1 million down to £2.6 million.

The virtual cabinet meeting will take place on Wednesday, 23 September, and members will get a report on how the impact of the pandemic has been managed.

Original projections predicted a shortfall of £4.1 million, however, thanks to careful management of council spending and government funding, the projected financial impact has been reduced to £2.6 million.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, said:

“Thanks to good financial management over the lockdown period, we are now able to report a more optimistic financial outlook.

“Our budget monitoring for the second quarter of the year takes us to the end of June with an estimated overspend of £2.6 million instead of the previously projected £4.1 million.

“We’ve received almost £1.9 million government funding so far which we’ve used to create community hubs to support the vulnerable people of the borough during lockdown, found suitable accommodation for anybody sleeping rough and distributed grants to help business owners stay afloat.

“We also plan to use some of the government funding to help us bridge the gap between our loss of income and significantly increased outgoings.

“Although this is welcome news, we’re not out of the woods yet as we manage the ongoing impacts of COVID with increased costs for tackling homelessness and a reduced income from car parking and planning fees.

“We’ll continue to carefully manage this and any future impacts from loss of business rates and council tax should they come our way.

“As yet, we’ve received no support from the government to help with lost income from our leisure services, which are an important part of people’s wellbeing, and for the borough’s recovery.

“To make sure these important services can survive, we’ve made a £75,000 grant to Faversham Pools and a £50,000 grant to Swale Community Leisure so they will still be available to the community once the pandemic is finally over.

“The government have also now committed to providing funding where losses are greater than five percent of a council’s planned income from fees and charges, which we hope will allow us to lower our projected net loss to £1.23 million, which although is a serious overhead for a small council like ours, is better than we could’ve hoped for earlier this year.

“Although things are looking better, it’s important to know that any projections we make are only cautious estimates, as like everybody else, we can’t predict what further financial challenges we may face if a further lockdown occurs, or if there are any other surprises brought about by this pandemic.”

The meeting agenda and full report can be viewed here.