Telford & Wrekin Council calls on government to plug £11.7 million deficit

The coronavirus pandemic has created a black hole of nearly £12 million in Telford & Wrekin Council's budget, according to a new report.

Telford & Wrekin Council's headquarters
Telford & Wrekin Council's headquarters

Council bosses are asking the Government to help plug the gap, which they say is down to a combination of extra new costs and significantly reduced income for a number of services, such as its leisure centres and theatre.

A new report to the council’s cabinet shows that overall the pandemic has created new cost pressures of almost £27m.

They range from almost £6.4m for adult social care, including additional costs to support care providers and short-term care, to a major drop in income for its leisure centres of £3.4m, which are now open again but at reduced capacity.

Oakengates Theatre and its outdoor education facility Arthog also remain severely hit by pandemic restrictions.

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The report highlights other pressures including the extra costs of additional personal protective equipment, homelessness prevention, and many other areas where the council has been forced to step in to meet unexpected extra costs and where income has reduced.

To date the council has received £15.2m from the Government’s Covid emergency response fund but this still leaves the council with an £11.7m deficit, according to the councillor responsible for finance.

Councillor Rae Evans, Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet lead for finance, said: “We now have a much better idea of the impact of the pandemic on our budget this year and whilst we welcome the additional emergency funding provided by the Government, this falls way short of covering the pressures that we are facing and we need more help to plug this gap.

“Our mission is to protect, care and invest in our borough and our residents and the council has worked very hard to do so during this exceptionally challenging time, for example by extending our offer of support to those eligible on free schools meals.

“We’re having to meet significant extra care costs for both vulnerable adults and children, while providing extra support to social care providers in recognition of the crucial role they play.

“We’ve provided extra support for our local businesses to help revive high streets, funding to help the homeless, foodbanks, mental health and domestic violence partner services to tackle issues created by the pandemic.

“In March the Government said it would support councils to do whatever was necessary to tackle the pandemic.

"We’re doing our bit, now we’re asking the Government again to stay true to that promise and plug this budget gap the virus has created.”

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