Eastbourne Borough Council has set out a wide-ranging plan of recovery and reset to address the financial and organisational challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the income the council would normally expect to receive, particularly tourism related revenue from theatres and conferences which have been unable to go ahead. Additionally, there have been unbudgeted extra costs associated with the response to the crisis, particularly on housing, homelessness and a range of other essential support for the most vulnerable residents.
The pandemic has left the council with a budget deficit in 2020/2021 of £8 million. Further costs will be incurred for as long as the pandemic continues.
Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “We are in a similar position to other local authorities in the UK, however, being a seaside resort and dependent on millions of annual visitors to the town, the financial impact of the pandemic has inevitably been that much greater in Eastbourne.
“The recovery and reset programme will, allied with promised financial support from the government, establish a basis on which the authority can maintain vital frontline and statutory services in a sustainable way.”
A team of senior council officers has been mobilised to rapidly scrutinise every area of the council’s operation for efficiencies.
They will focus on four key principles: the best use of digital technology, reshaping service delivery, the best use of the council’s assets, such as buildings, and supporting the restart of the local economy, including preparedness in the event of any resurgence in the coronavirus.
Councillor Tutt added: “We have had some limited government support and I welcome that, but that funding has to be just the start. Our officers are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the MHCLG (Ministry for Housing, Community and Local Government) setting out the unique factors affecting our position, and this will continue.
“I know the government isn’t going to cover every penny we’ve lost due to Covid-19, they have made that clear, but at the start of the pandemic ministers promised to compensate councils for the cost of dealing with it. They have a duty to keep their word for the good of our residents.”