Pandemic leaves council facing £4.4m shortfall

Argyll and Bute Council

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The coronavirus pandemic is expected to cost Argyll and Bute Council  £11.2 million.

The stark figure is revealed in a report to a council committee meeting today – although more than half of the total is covered by Scottish Government funding.

However, the council is still left with a shortfall of £4.4m.

A decision now needs to be taken on whether to use internal funding to cover some of that cost.

The council may decide to draw on £2.2m of ‘internal options’ to reduce the shortfall.

The report and its implications will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee today (Thursday, October 15).

It also predicts an overall overspend of more than £2 million by the end of March – as a result of social work funding provided to the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP).

The overspend, as of the end of August, is because of ‘slippage’ on savings and a greater demand for services, according to executive director Kirsty Flanagan.

‘The impact of Covid can be summarised as new additional costs of £11.209m, for which £6.116m of Scottish Government funding has been provided with an additional £0.616m of flexibility around existing funding. This leaves an estimated shortfall of £4.477m,’ she said.

‘The Scottish Government are currently considering implementing a lost income scheme to provide funding to reimburse councils for lost income from sales, fees and charges.

‘There is currently no clarity over the amount the council may receive should the scheme be rolled out.

‘The council has established a short life working group to consider options to fund the Covid shortfall.’

Ms Flanagan added: ‘There is a year to date underspend of £1.279m. More focus is on the forecast outturn position, hence why sometimes the year to date position is not updated.

‘The year to date variances mainly relate to the timing of income and expenditure, recharging of costs to capital and the impact of Covid-19.’