Council counts Covid-19 cost: budget deficit forecast up to £10.2million

Cabinet councillors today (June 11) heard that Covid-19 is likely to leave Lewes District Council facing a budget deficit of between £3.2m and £10.2m, according to the latest estimates of Covid-19’s fiscal impact.  

The projected figures for this financial year have been produced by modelling a number of best and worst-case scenarios based on potential announcements from the government.  

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “Our finance team is working hard to calculate the full impact of Covid-19, which is a very difficult task as it’s impossible to predict how long the impact of the pandemic will felt on our community, businesses and the council.  

“What is abundantly clear however, is that the full support promised to us by central government as we launched emergency initiatives to help vulnerable people and our local economy back in March, has so far been meagre compared to our significant costs.  

“It is imperative the government lives up to its commitment to cover these costs or it will forever be known as the administration that betrayed local authorities and condemned public services as we know them.”  

In circumstances repeated across the UK, local authorities have seen spending increase because of the coronavirus crisis, planned savings not being achieved and all income streams, including council tax, business rates and commercial rents, falling.  

Cabinet councillors approved the use of money held in the council’s Covid-19 earmarked reserve to support essential services and to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 emergency on residents.  

Councillor Nicholson added: “We will continue to lobby central government for the additional funding that was promised and explore all other options open to us to navigate our way through the Covid-19 crisis. 

 “We are one of countless local councils in this situation, every one facing severe financial challenges, but will continue to do all we can to maintain the frontline services our residents rely on.”